Friday, November 7, 2008

RULES: Book Review

RULES, by Cynthia Lord, is a book about the impact of living with a child with disabilities. It's told from the perspective of 12-year-old Catherine, a budding artist who just wants a "normal" life. Her brother, David, has autism, and family life centers around his needs. David's behaviors embarrass Catherine and make it difficult for her to fit in. She teaches him "rules" in hopes that one day life can be normal. Rules such as,"Keep your pants on in public," and "It's fine to hug Mom, but not the clerk at the video store." When Kristi moves in next door, Catherine hopes they will be come friends, but she worries that David's behaviors will drive Kristi away. One day while accompanying David on his occupational therapy visit, Catherine meets Jason. Jason is wheelchair bound and unable to speak. Through Catherine's art and Jason's communication board, they develop a friendship. Catherine's conflicting feelings of what is right and wanting to fit in result in shocking behavior on her part. She is left to consider, "What is normal?" 

It isn't often I choose to read books that tackle the topic of disabilities. My reading tends to be somewhat escapist. Borders Bookstore was handing out complimentary teacher's editions of a book with a rubber duck on the cover. I took it, along with posters, pencils, and bookmarks because it was free. I was not prepared for how deeply this book would dig into my heart. As a mother of a (grown) child with a disability, it was not always an easy read for me emotionally. Cynthia Lord realistically describes the emotional stress and relational eggshells family members of those with disabilities sometimes walk upon. 

I highly recommend this book. It's good, authentic storytelling with believable characters.  

Kudos to Cynthia Lord!


Tabitha said...

I also loved this book, and I don't have kids with a disability. The story was so powerful and real, and showed how Catherine's Rules were both a blessing and a curse for her. Fantastic book. :) Thanks for the review!

Annette Gulati said...

I loved this book as well. I heard Cynthia Lord speak at a conference this year. She gave an extremely helpful talk on creating themes in novels, as is evident in Rules, and she recounted the day she heard it won the Newbery honor. Very touching.

Rena said...

This sounds like a great book. I know a few people who might get a lot out of it. Thanks for the review!

Rocky said...

Well written and helpful review.