House Rules Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of House Rules

Jacob Hunt is 18 and has Asperger's Syndrome, and that high functioning form of autism has given him the habit of listening to police radio and being very detail oriented, so when his tutor winds up dead and he knows more than he should, he is accused of her murder. Jacob Hunt is the older of two sons, who are being raised by Emma Hunt after their father abandoned the family many years ago. His brother, Theo, is the normal child who seems to wind up emotionally or physically responsible for Jacob on a regular basis. Although Theo won't admit it, he resents being the responsible one and it has impacted his life in a number of ways.
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Asperger's Syndrome is likely to present with a wide variety of symptoms, and Jacob has man of the lesser known ones. For example, he prefers to eat certain colors of food on certain days and is very, very literal in both his verbal communication and his understanding of reality.

In addition, he is fascinated by police scanners and regularly listens to them and is very detail oriented. His unique mindset also allows him to have a clear understanding of forensics, which again, makes him look more guilty. It is important to understand that quite possibly the most challenging aspects of his condition are that he has trouble communicating with strangers, looking anyone in the eye and it is virtually impossible for him to lie.

When his tutor is found dead, he is questioned and those habits make him look guilty. He also knows a lot about what the police discovered, due to his police scanner and he is eventually arrested for her murder.

His mom has consistently done her best for him his entire life and devotes her life to improving his. She does not date and is very educated about the problems her son is facing. However, she never expected him to be arrested and she is terrified at the possibility of him going to jail for a crime she believes he is not capable of committing.

She arranges for Jacob to obtain a lawyer and although she is not looking for a romantic relationship, one begins to form between her and the lawyer. At one point, she is distraught and leaves her home in the middle of the night to seek out physical intimacy with the lawyer for the first time.

As the trial goes on, the voice of the novel changes several times and the reader gains access to the innermost thoughts of Jacob, Emma and Theo. As evidence mounts, this young man is put to trial and actually confesses, but it is obvious that he is lying. The trial concludes very quickly and shockingly, it was not a murder. Instead, the poor young woman died as the result of an accident and because nobody ever asked him what he knew, it took that long to determine what happened to her and why.
Best part of story, including ending: I liked the idea of the story but the actuality was frustrating and annoying on several levels. One, his symptom of needing to eat certain colors on certain days has never been linked as a symptom, so it was just him. I also question why nobody ever asked him what happened the day that his tutor died and what he knew about it, prior to that point in his trial. It seems as if you have a client who cannot lie and is very literal, their input as to what they did or did not do would be helpful.

Best scene in story: It was my favorite scene only because it reminds me of something many single moms want to do and don't. I find it out of character, but Emma Hunt was at the end of her rope, frustrated worried and stressed, so in the middle of the night she left the house and found her son's lawyer. They had sex, it was not a seduction, but it was something of a turning point for the character and the novel because it allows her to be seen as a mother, woman and sexual being. I think she ignored that part of herself for too long and snapped.

Opinion about the main character: I dislike that Jacob Hunt is almost a caricature of the Asperger's patient. One example is that he has every symptom, consistently and that I do not feel that his character is representational of an actual person and in a fiction book, I would like to feel some sort of connection with the main character.

The review of this Book prepared by Roberta Still a Level 7 Marbled Godwit scholar

Chapter Analysis of House Rules

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Crime & Police story    -   Yes Story of    -   catching a killer Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Brain/Body disability?    -   mental illness

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Jodi Picoult Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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