Tuesday, June 8, 2010

An Excerpt from House Rules..

I still haven't gotten this from the library, however I am within the 100s!! ;) I was looking on Jodi's website and found an excerpt that I thought I would post here, so for those of you who are like me and still haven't been able to get your hands on our June Blogger Book selection here is a taste of House Rules by Jodi Picoult.

(copy and pasted from here. )

Everywhere I look, there are signs of a struggle. The mail has been scattered all over the kitchen floor; the stools are overturned. The phone has been knocked off its pedestal, its battery pack hanging loose from an umbilicus of wires. There’s one single faint footprint at the threshold of the living room, pointing toward the dead body of my son, Jacob.

He is sprawled like a starfish in front of the fireplace. Blood covers his temple and his hands. For a moment, I can’t move; can’t breathe.

Suddenly, he sits up. “Mom,” Jacob says, “you’re not even trying.”

This is not real, I remind myself, and I watch him lie back down in the exact same position – on his back, his legs twisted to the left.

“Um, there was a fight,” I say.

Jacob’s mouth barely moves. “And…?”

“You were hit in the head.” I get down on my knees, like he’s told me to do a hundred times, and notice the crystal clock that usually sits on the mantel now peeking out from beneath the couch. I gingerly pick it up and see blood on the corner. With my pinky, I touch the liquid and then taste it. “Oh, Jacob, don’t tell me you used up all my corn syrup again –“

“Mom! Focus!”

I sink down on the couch, cradling the clock in my hands. “Robbers came in and you fought them off.”

Jacob sits up and sighs. The food dye and corn syrup mixture has matted his dark hair; his eyes are shining, even though they won’t meet mine. “Do you honestly believe I’d execute the same crime scene twice?” He unfolds a fist and for the first time I see a tuft of cornsilk hair. Jacob’s father is a towhead – or at least he was when he walked out on us fifteen years ago, leaving me with Jacob and Theo - his brand-new, blond baby brother.

“Theo killed you?”

“Seriously, mom, a kindergartner could have solved this case,” Jacob says, jumping to his feet. Fake blood drips down the side of his face, but he doesn’t notice; when he is intensely focused on crime scene analysis I think a nuclear bomb could detonate beside him and he’d never flinch. He walks toward the footprint at the edge of the carpet and points. Now, at second glance, I notice the waffle tread of the Vans skateboarding sneakers that Theo saved up to buy for months; and the latter half of the company logo – NS – burned into the rubber sole. “There was a confrontation in the kitchen,” Jacob explains. “It ended with the phone being thrown in defense, and me being chased into the living room, where Theo clocked me.”

At that, I have to smile a little. “Where did you hear that term?”

“Crime Busters, Episode 43.”

“Well, just so you know – it means to punch someone. Not hit them with an actual clock.”

Jacob blinks at me, expressionless. He lives in a literal world; it’s one of the hallmarks of his diagnosis. Years ago, when we were moving to Vermont, he asked what it was like. Lots of green, I said, and rolling hills. At that, he’d burst into tears. Won’t they hurt us? he’d said.

“But what’s the motive?” I ask, and on cue, Theo thunders down the stairs.

“Where’s the freak?” he yells.

“Theo, you will not call your brother –“

“How about I stop calling him a freak when he stops stealing things out of my room?”

I have instinctively stepped between him and his brother, although Jacob is a head taller than both of us.

“I didn’t steal anything from your room,” Jacob says.

“Oh, really? What about my sneakers?”

“They were in the mudroom,” Jacob qualifies.

“Retard,” Theo says under his breath, and I see a flash of fire in Jacob’s eyes.

“I am not retarded,” he growls, and he lunges for his brother.

I hold him off with an outstretched arm. “Jacob,” I say, “you shouldn’t take anything that belongs to Theo without asking for his permission. And Theo, I don’t want to hear that word come out of your mouth again, or I’m going to take your sneakers and throw them out with the trash. Do I make myself clear?”

“I’m outta here,” Theo mutters, and he stomps toward the mudroom. A moment later I hear the door slam.

“What we got here,” Jacob mutters, his voice a sudden drawl, “is…failure to communicate.” He crouches down, hugging his knees.

When he cannot find the words for how he feels, he borrows someone else’s. These come from Cool Hand Luke; Jacob remembers the dialogue from every movie he’s ever seen.

I’ve met so many parents of kids who are on the low end of the autism spectrum, kids who are diametrically opposed to Jacob, with his Asperger’s. They tell me I’m lucky to have a son who’s so verbal, who is blisteringly intelligent, who can take apart the busted microwave and have it working again an hour later. They think there is no greater hell than having a son who is locked in his own world, unaware that there’s a wider one to explore. But try having a son who is locked in his own world, and still wants to make a connection. A son who tries to be like everyone else, but truly doesn’t know how.

I reach out to comfort him but stop myself - a light touch can set Jacob off. He doesn’t like handshakes or pats on the back or someone ruffling his hair. “Jacob,” I begin, and then I realize that he isn’t sulking at all. He holds up the telephone receiver he’s been hunched over, so that I can see the smudge of black on the side. “You missed a fingerprint too,” Jacob says cheerfully. “No offense, but you would make a lousy crime scene investigator.” He rips off a sheet of paper towel off the roll; dampens it in the sink. “Don’t worry, I’ll clean up all the blood.”

“You never did tell me Theo’s motive to kill you.”

“Oh.” Jacob glances over his shoulder, a wicked grin spreading across his face. “I stole his sneakers.”

What do you think, would it be worse to be verbal and not fit in or silent and not be able to express yourself? Have you started reading or are you still waiting?


Alee said...

I feel like silent and unable to express myself would be more difficult. Nobody "fits in" everywhere, and really, "fitting in" doesn't leave a lot of room for new ideas. I haven't started reading yet, but can't wait!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I'm waiting and it's pretty much impossible for me to get it in time to read this month since I am seriously 1,108th on the wait list... Ahem, my library needs more copies apparently... So yah, prob not going to be reading it this month which makes me sad. But I am not enough of a Picoult fan to break my book buying fast!

I think it would be more frustrating to be silent & unable to express myself...

crystal said...

I found that if you put yourself on the list for either the large print or the audio book you end up a bit closer to the top! Oh and if you can read the Spanish version you are golden!!

Gracie said...

I gave up and I'll read it next year. My library doesn't even have a copy and probably doesn't have the budget for more than one or two new books a year. We're suffering down here, lol!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I cannot believe how many people are on the waiting list! And Lisa being number 1,108?! Holy bejeezus! That's nuts.
I buy a lot of books, but I almost always have a 40% off coupon from Borders. Or I buy them from Half Price Books.
Hopefully you get this book soon, because it's pretty good!

Kelly said...

I borrowed it from my mom and sister so I am lucky they had it. I am actually almost done, and I definitely like it- but like you I needed a break from Picoult before this haha.

I thought she was saying it was harder for Jacob because he KNOWS he doesn't fit in, vs. a kid who is not very verbal but also not very aware. That's how I interpreted it anyway...it could've been something I read later that implied that. So in that sense I saw her point. But if it was not fitting in vs. not being able to express myself I'd probably rather not fit in. There are many less opportunities to worry about fitting in during adulthood. Though unfortunately it does not go away entirely, probably ever.

Anonymous said...

Uffda! I finally got this book a couple days ago from the library (Monday, actually)- I was like 130 on the wait list (so, whew! I'm gonna back off my library after seeing that some are in the 1000's!)

I work with individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders- it's so fascinating in the way that they think:

For example:

I had one individual who used to hate taking showers. Whenever her mother tried to bathe her/wash her hair, she would become physically aggressive (hit, kick, spit, pull hair, etc). So when she came to the crisis facility, we showered her: we put up with the physical aggression, we got our hair pulled, punched, kicked, spit on, yelled at- but I'll never forget the day I had her in the shower and she looks at me and says, "Turn it farther!" And when I was clueless, she kept (calmly) repeating it. "Turn it farther?" I asked her, "Make it hotter?" and she'd scream out, "Noooo, farther!"
Finally I just looked at her and said, "show me". If you look at the shower handle, it was the kind where the handle should be turned in a counterclockwise fashion (like an arc) to get hotter and to the right to get colder. She literally meant, "turn it farther".

It was interesting because we always would teach people, "if you say something, they take it literally", but sometimes I think we don't even know what the literal meaning of a word is, or what slang literally means- because we're so used to it we don't think of it like that.

One guy I currently work with loves the tingling and burning sensation of slapping- it feels good to him, so he will walk around the house, pound on walls, windows, tables, doors, people-- yes, people, and he does it either because it feels good or he wants attention. For the longest time (years ago), they didn't think he could talk; he would just echo what he heard from others. Turns out, now many years later, he talks all right! He swears in context! He'll tell you that he does something, "to get a rise out of you!" It's a bit of a word salad, where throughout the day you have to stop and listen to what he's saying to figure it out. But we talk back to him- if he starts talking about something, we talk about it too, even though it might not be talking together, but more of a parallel conversation- that way, he knows we're listening to him (and it gives purpose to language for him). Otherwise, if no one would respond or listen to him, then why talk?

Oh, and the need for consistency and routine- it gets to be difficult. I work with one individual now who was misdiagnosed all his life as OCD, but really, he is on the spectrum. "I want peas, cottage cheese, and hot dish for supper". And if that's not what you were having, then he'd tell you, "I want my way now! Peas, cottage cheese and hotdish, now!" He'll eat food that falls on the table: not because he's hungry, but because it's his. So to get him to stop doing that (eating off the floor), we have him throw it away and we "replace" what he lost.

Surprsingly, Picoult does a really good job of conveying what it is like to support an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorders... the mom in this book, is, lemme tell you, by far the most understanding parent I've run across! (Many parents simply just don't understand or don't know what to do- even providers, group homes!! don't know what to do sometimes.