Monday, July 14, 2014

Rules - Cynthia Lord

Summary:  This 2007 Newbery Honor Book is a humorous and heartwarming debut about feeling different and finding acceptance. Now in After Words paperback!

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"---in order to head off David's embarrassing behaviors.
But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?   (Summary and image from

My Review:  I'm loving these books that offer students that chance to jump in someone else's shoes.  It's truly awesome that not everything is Sweet Valley High or Baby Sitter's Club for YA (at least girls) any more.  (Not that I have a problem with either of those--I'm just glad it's not the only thing.)  There have been so many times I've been talking with my daughters and wanted to share with them how different life could be.  For my oldest, this is the only way I can truly get through to her: read a book that opens her eyes.  And isn't that what reading is all about?  I love it!

Catherine wants to love her brother, but it's hard when it feels like all he does is mess up her life and make things difficult. Her parents lean on her a lot for help.  As an older sibling, I can attest that it's frustrating to always be the back-up babysitter or help when you feel like it's technically not your responsibility.  And yet, it is.  There are times it's just hard not to get bitter about it, as everyone wants to be 'normal'.  But what is normal?

But through this process of helping her mother, she meets a new friend, Jason, who she accidentally befriends.  And then a neighbor moves in, the kind of friend she's always wanted to live next door.  What makes this book refreshing is Catherin's realization that normal is a farce we dream up--or maybe even better than that.  Normal is so broad it is all inclusive.  What's my normal and your normal are not the same, but they are both normal.  Wouldn't this be nice for everyone to come to terms with?

I highly recommend this book.  It's a must read for children and teens--heck, even adults! 

Rating:  4.5 stars

Sum it up:  A great YA book that grows perspective on what it's like to have a brother with Autism.

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