Every home has house rules. Some families post them on the wall, some families review them orally. In Jacob’s home the rules appear on the bathroom mirror every time the bathroom is steamy. Jacob is autistic and following rules is what helps him navigate this world. But, what would happen if following rules put him in grave danger?
While following the house rules, Jacob causes a tragic event to twist into a murder scene. The most difficult piece of the story for the reader was the reticence of Jacob’s family to simply ask what happened the day of the “murder.” Jacob wants for everyone to understand his actions but all of his explanations are interpreted with the presupposition that he is guilty.
It is the heart wrenching scenario of a grown man seen as a boy by family and school officials but legally viewed as a man. Every effort has been made in Jacob’s life to help him learn to be “normal” and mainstream into society. Now, all those efforts may lead him to imprisonment.
Picoult does an excellent job of expressing the point of view of each character. It is a wonderful peak into the sensations of an autistic person dealing with overwhelming awareness. Nonetheless, there were a few disappointments with this book. The front cover of the book misleadingly displays a child in front of a pond. However, the story is about an 18 year old. The reader realizes fairly early in the book what really happened and there is no plot twist. The ending felt abrupt. It was almost as if the author was nearing a publishing deadline and needed to finish the story quickly. The plot dragged occasionally as the author rehashed memories from the different perspective of the main characters. This rehashing may have been the reason that no plot twist was possible. The author painted herself into a corner with so many points of view merging from every angle disallowing pieces that did not fit.