379 of 423 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: House Rules: A Novel (Hardcover)As a person with Asperger's I am dismayed with Picoult's portrayal of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Picoult starts off by showing us all the sources she has used for her research but once one starts reading it is obvious she is so full of research she doesn't know what to do with it. She has taken every possible symptom of both Asperger's and autism (which are two different diagnoses) and put them all into the character of Jacob. Not only is Jacob loaded down with every single symptom, each of his symptoms are of the most extreme variety. A real-life 'aspie' (as we call ourselves) will have some, perhaps even many, but certainly not all textbook examples, of the symptoms and then they are at varying degrees. What Picoult has done here is a disservice to the Asperger's community.
From the mother: "Since there's no cure yet for Asperger's, we treat the symptoms ...". Asperger's is not a disease or an illness! There is no cure because one is not needed. Just from reading the positive reviews of this book I see the word "illness" being used over and over to describe Asperger's and that is because the book has left readers unfamiliar with AS with that impression. I could sit here and write an essay refuting all the quotes on the dog-eared pages I created while reading, but I won't. If you want a realistic view of a young man with Asperger's I urge you to read the book "Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork. The main character is 17 years old and is very comparable to Jacob only the author has done an excellent job in portraying Asperger's, showing the struggles we face but also shows that we do indeed function and do not need anyone's sympathy.
BTW, I did give the book 2 stars because if I removed the whole Asperger's element I thought the mystery was quite interesting with a fun little twist to the solution.
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Showing 1-10 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 27, 2010 6:00:41 PM PDT
Excellent review. I agree completely, including your recommendation of "Marcelo in the Real World."
Posted on Apr 9, 2010 8:54:24 AM PDT
I have to share that I once mentioned my Aspie son's "disability" and was firmly rebuked. He feels he has an advantage over us so-called "normal" people because he can focus on what he needs to without all the other stuff getting in the way!
I agree 100% with your review. My fears have been solidified by reading the positive reviews that support Picout's view of this condition. It is no more a treatable illness than having a sixth finger is. Our house has found that behavioral modification therapy helps our son to behave the way society needs. He's fine the way he is; he just needs to know how to fake it when circumstances demand.
In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2010 3:33:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 4, 2010 3:37:46 PM PDT
Joseph J. Zavada says:
After 65 years of being an Aspie in the closet of my own mind, I came to realize how blessed I have been. I also have a 6 yr old grandson with Autism so I understand the subtle differences. I have come to believe that Autism is a neural defect but ASD appears to be a neural adaptation to the electronic age. While reading HOUSE RULES, I was also coming to terms with my grandson's Autism and the issues I faced with my ASD. I agree with your son's perspective. My grandson lacks the ability to get what he needs from society to survive; society needs the special ability of Aspies for it to survive. Beware of labels and guns. Either can be used for good or evil depending on the intent of the user!
Posted on May 6, 2010 2:23:29 PM PDT
You have expressed my thoughts exactly. As the mother of a 21-year-old Aspie, I read this book critically to see if Ms. Picoult captured the voice of those with Asperger's. You are correct; she captured all their voices. My son has some Asperger characteristics but does not have others. Even those he has are not as extreme as what is portrayed. Thank you for so eloquently summarizing my thoughts about the "Jacob" character.
Posted on May 7, 2010 2:30:21 AM PDT
Thanks for this review, I really liked this book & wondered how people who have experienced Austism or Asberger's in their own life (either themselves, or a close family member) would react to Picoult's character.
While I understand where you're coming from that she wrapped up all the symptoms into Jacob, but another way of looking at it (perhaps) would be she is trying to show the world all the different challengers one dealing with Asberger's would face.
In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2010 6:56:39 AM PDT
Nicola Manning says:
Elegant Gowns, I can appreciate how someone can want to see it that way but it really just doesn't work that way. If that was the author's purpose she should have had more than one Asberger's character. The one thing that really makes this hard to explain is that Asperger's is not a disease or an illness (it is neurological, brain-wiring) so it isn't comparable to psychiatric illnesses such as say schizophrenia, which is treatable with medication, where the author could do what you are saying. Jacob does not exist in real life. He is not an example of someone with Asperger's, if anything, he is an example of someone with Autism who also has Asperger's symptoms thrown in and it just doesn't work that way.
If you do read the book I recommended in my review, it is a quick read, I think you may see why this book bothers "aspie's" so much.
Thanks for taking the time to comment :-)
Posted on May 14, 2010 1:47:16 PM PDT
J. Melville says:
Very helpful to see the book from your viewpoint. I find it interesting that you didn't believe the character with AS because I didn't believe the mom. As a mom of son with down's and autism, I know that immediately a mom would have helped her son tell the facts right away. It's something we do all the time. But then the story would've ended. And I liked the story.
It's important to get information about asperger's, autism, whatever out there in the mainstream. What a better way to do it than a best selling author. I'm in agreement about Marcello in the Real World, but Stork doesn't have the same readership as Piccoult. Knowledge is the power. And again, I think you agree, it is a good story.
Posted on Jun 8, 2010 5:17:20 AM PDT
Kathleen Kunish says:
I have a son with severe ADHD, Asperger's Like Symptoms, OCD and has and IQ in the "very superior" range! If someone was to ask me to describe my son... I would find myself describing every moment of his life (though it may have been one time he produced a certain symptom). Most people who have not experienced a child or adult with a behavioral, emotional, or social disability (Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, ADD, OCD, etc.) can NOT begin to imagine the life that child/adult or parent lives. When I describe as much as possible - maybe a few of those will "click" and they will understand.
I feel Picoult's portrayal reaches the audience in hopes to give something tangible to understand. Had she not given as much as possible with symptoms - people would walk away from the book saying - "does my child have this"? She repeatedly expressed the difference between "normal" vs. Aspergers to the reader.
In addition, Aspergers is on the Autism Spectrum. Yes, they are 2 different diagnoses under the same unbrella - but once again - the misdiagnosis between Autism and Aspergers is as high as ADHD & OCD or ADD & Executive dysfunction (LD).
There is no cure... nor is there a cure for ADHD, OCD, having a Learning Disability, etc. Those of us who live with these diagnoses, eventually learn that these can be gifts. We learn how to work with what we have and become the best we can be. People who do not have experience must be told "there is no cure". As a parent who lives this life daily with my son - it isn't easy to explain why my child acts the way he does at 14 yet is in all AP classes at school.
Picoult does show a Mom surviving and giving so much of herself - that is what parents do when they love their children - no matter what gift your child has in his/her life!
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 9:04:41 AM PDT
Nicola Manning says:
I still can't agree with Picoult's book being positive for aspie's in any form. Because of her popularity as an author I think she should have been much more careful to portray a realistic character. I have Aspergers, OCD, high IQ, and am bi-polar. My son is Autistic, with ADHD, ODD and many learning disabilities. We both have meltdowns, his are very different from mine. There is no cure for Asperger's or Autism but the medication sure helps my OCD, and Bi-polar as well as my son's ODD and ADHD.
I agree with you that we learn to accept our gifts, that's why I took offense at Jacob's mother saying there was no cure yet. Also another reason why I highly recommend "Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork and I've also just read another highly recommended book featuring a female aspie called "mockingbird" by kathryn erskine which is highly more satisfying in its portrayal of Asperger's than Ms. Picoult's book.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 2:19:32 PM PDT
Joseph J. Zavada says:
You roll through a bunch of labels in one sentence that would pass right over most people's understanding. I give Picoult credit for at least making one of those labels interesting enough to grab people's attention and explaining it in a way that the average person can appreciate. As I said earlier in this discussion: Beware of labels and guns. Either can be used for good or evil depending on the intent of the user!