Friday, July 2, 2010

House Rules Discussion

Our June Group Read was House Rules by Jodi Picoult which explored Aspergers and how it can adversely affect those who come in contact with the judicial system. Here are some discussion questions. If you read, play along. If you read it awhile ago, play along. Any and all thoughts are always welcome. ;) Even if you didn't read you may be able to answer some questions!

Questions from Jodi's Site:

1. Jacob’s meltdown give the reader many clues into what Emma’s like is like taking care of Jacob. What does it tell us about Emma and her personality?

2.The rules of the house are listed on page 21. Do they seem appropriate or unusual? Would they be rules that would work in your house? Why should a rule that works in one situation not work in another? (p 75) If a bully taunts him and I tell him it’s all right to reciprocated….why shouldn’t he do the same with a teacher who humiliates him in public? Discuss.

3. Asperger’s Syndrome is a relatively new term. Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with AS? Have you read any other books that deal with autism as a theme, or that depict autistic characters? How does House Rules compare? Does autism make good subject material and, if so, why? What challenges does AS pose in the telling of a story? How well does Jodi Picoult deal with those challenges?

4. Theo breaks into houses and Jacob saves the Christmas cards. Both boys are trying to have the same thing—what they consider to be a real home. What makes their home not a “real” home to them? What do they want?

5. ‘I’m new to practicing criminal law, period, but I don’t tell her that’ (p.231). Is it fair of Oliver to take on Jacob’s case, considering his inexperience? Does he prove himself a good lawyer? How might he have done things differently?

6.Did you ever suspect Jacob? Or Theo? When did you guess what had happened to Jess? Did you enjoy the story’s detective elements?

And here is an extra.. a link to a Jodi Picoult Podcast about House Rules!

Have a fantastic 4th of July weekend!!! This is my favorite part of every summer and also the weekend I met my husband 7 years ago!

Has anyone started reading July's book The Secret Garden?


The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

1. Emma's got a martyr personality and a very tough personality all in one. She knows what has to be done and doesn't shrink from it. She's brave and she doesn't give a shit what others think ofher!

2. I think the rules of their house work well for them. Except for when they had that major miscommunication problem and all.

Unknown said...

I love that it's a little book club on your blog after you're finished reading a book! I haven't read House Rules but I'm going to have to now because the questions you've asked have intrigued me!!

As for Secret Garden I think I'll put it on my list for this month it would be exciting to participate in the next one!

Your blog rocks! I found you over at Amber Tidd Murphy's and I figured if you thought she was a riot just like I do I had to check out your blog!

Kelly said...

I started reading Secret Garden last night :)
So...House Rules...

1. Emma is very strong, but also human. She will do anything for Jacob, but she doesn't realize that by doing anything for Jacob she may not be doing everything for Theo...

2. Because I teach kindergarten, a year when most children are only slightly less literal that Jacob, I find these kinds of conversations happen a lot. Last year I had a little boy who hit a child who hit him. I said, "John, we don't hit people just because they hit us, we tell a teacher" he said his Dad told him to. Does his dad have a point? absolutely but can I let that happen in my classroom? probably not- there are some situations where it is a good idea though. Rules are tough. I think its a big thing for kids to navigate when its okay to "break" rules. Part of growing up I guess. But harder for children like Jacob.

3. I know a lot of kids with autism and Aspergers. I have also read a few other books that deal with it including Curious Incident of the Dog...I thought a big challenge for Jodi was putting herself in the position of Jacob. I think it was a challenge to make him a character that is likable because often you want to scream at him, but at the same time you feel sympathy for him...

4. I'm not sure why there home is not real...maybe the fact that their dad is not there...and the fact that they aren't really close with each other? I'd like to hear others thoughts on this...

5. Maybe it's not fair but everyone has to start somewhere...and he certainly gave the case his best effort. I was a little frustrated that he did not ask Jacob for the truth when he tried to tell it. I get that he doesn't want to know if he killed him, but I think in this situation he should've found out..

6. I like the detective element definitely. I did suspect Jacob at times, not really Theo. Oddly I never really guessed what happened, it never occurred to me that it could have been an accident- in my defense I was really busy while reading this book and my mind was not totally there haha.

crystal said...

Hi so I am months behind, oops! In my defense, I was like the 3,0001st person on the library wait list :)
Anyways, I really wanted to discuss it, it was a perfect book club type book! So here are a few of my answers...

3) I think that characters on the Autism spectrum are very difficult to depict. Its hard to give the feel of someone who has no empathy without making them sound like a sociopath. People with Asperger's are actually very different than those with Autism, but unfortunately the 2, as well as developmentally delayed people, get confused very often. I think it is great that these characters are making their way into novels because there really needs to be a greater understanding!

4) I like this question because I was really drawn to the emotion behind Theo's breaking into houses. I felt more for him than any other character and I was so saddened by his desire to feel what a "normal" family was like. I also though just wanted to tell him that no family is actually normal, even if they look like it at first glance...

5) As a budding professional in my field, I want to say with conviction that yes, it is fair to take on a big case when you are new!! Actually though I think that it was right in this case, it took his enthusiasm and passion to win the case, which is something that an experienced but jaded lawyer may not have had.

6) Unfortunately, I suspected the plot from the very beginning when Theo said he ran out of the house when Jess slipped. I felt like it was pretty obvious and I was disappointed because I like a good mystery in a book :(

I have to say, I have a little bit of an ambiguity with Piccolt's books. I feel like they are all so similar, but I was very drawn to the Asperger's theme and I am glad that I did end up reading (well, listening actually) to it! Sorry Im so late.....

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