Rules by Cynthia Lord
Posted December 27, 2008on:
Author: Cynthia Lord
Summary: (Taken from Amazon)
Twelve-year-old Catherine has conflicting feelings about her younger brother, David, who is autistic. While she loves him, she is also embarrassed by his behavior and feels neglected by their parents. In an effort to keep life on an even keel, Catherine creates rules for him (It’s okay to hug Mom but not the clerk at the video store). Each chapter title is also a rule, and lots more are interspersed throughout the book. When Kristi moves in next door, Catherine hopes that the girl will become a friend, but is anxious about her reaction to David. Then Catherine meets and befriends Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic who uses a book of pictures to communicate, she begins to understand that normal is difficult, and perhaps unnecessary, to define. Rules of behavior are less important than acceptance of others. Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. Her love for her brother is as real as are her frustrations with him. Lord has candidly captured the delicate dynamics in a family that revolves around a child’s disability. Set in coastal Maine, this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter.
My Thoughts:Whoa. I can honestly say this is one of the best books I’ve read in a while, which is saying something, especially since this is classified as MG. Anyway, I started this on Christmas Day night just to try it , even though I’d really started a few books I’d received as Christmas presents, and I only put it done once (and that was only because we were going to my grandma’s). I stayed up half the night, despite being ridiculously tired from the food and excitement of the day, just to finish it. So what made the book so great?
For one, the plot flew by effortlessly. It wasn’t one of those plots were one big thing happens and everything is resolved. It’s one of those where the MC learns to deal with something better and also experiences some little things that change her point-of-view, which sometimes makes it seem like there’s no plot but in this case, it worked out perfectly.
Then there’s the characters. Catherine, David, and Jason were so incredibly well-developed that I felt like I knew them. Catherine was so easy to relate to that it almost felt like I was her, dealing with David and Jason myself. David, having had some friends with autism in the past, was also realistic. But, above both of them, Jason was by far my favorite. Not a whole lot is said about why he’s in the wheelchair but the way he treats Catherine and how he acts makes him a unique character. I would have loved to see more of him in the story.
Rules was not what I expected but it blew me away. If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do. You won’t be disappointed.