Monday, May 31, 2010

I am headed to the Essencia Island party but not sure of the directions on how to get there. It has been a while since I have been to one of the island parties but oh the breeze will be worth it on a hot day like this.

Wonder who will be there?


Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's party time!

Nobuddy has (yet) come to the party.  Please join me on Essencia Island by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

House Rules - Chapters 10 and 11 (pgs 446-532)

Finished! I liked the book, but not as much as others here and at The Book Nook did. I figured out the mystery of Jess' death in Chapter 4. I had thought I'd be wrong and Jodi would throw a curve with some details I'd missed. It was frustrating to me that no one ever asked Jacob how Jess died, given how much he loves solving murders. The more interesting part of the book for me was the details about Asperger's Symdrome, both living with AS and living with someone who has AS.

In Case 10: Woodn't You Like To Get Away With Murder?, Richard Craft kills his wife and leaves very little evidence, but one missed detail leads to a trail of evidence against him. Jacob's detail is the iPod, which lead to the true events of Jess' death coming out into the open.

Henry really is there. He want to do the right thing and be there for Jacob and Emma. Emma is argumentative. The house rule are reiterated as another clue to the reader. Emma knows deep inside that a jury will not decide Jacob is not guilty.

Jacob asks Theo for help with his tie. He's tried so hard and succeeded to overcome his AS symptoms and do something he knows needs to be done. Jacob remember his father from back when he lived with them. We learn that AS is like being bombarded with sensory stimulation. I did not know that apples could rust. The first day Jacob met Jess, she taught him how someone else felt in a situation by putting him in the same situation. Jacob thinks Jess is the best teacher he's ever had and she would have understood what he did.

Oliver is really into Emma. He's focused on getting Jacob off. Then he sees Henry. Jacob doesn't like that Helen has her hair down, it's making him anxious and he thinks it's a bad omen. Jacob tells Oliver again to make sure to tell the jury the truth. Oliver tells the jury about AS and Jacob in his opening statement. He says Jacob doesn't understand what he did to Jess was wrong. Jacob writes to Oliver that he has to tell the jury what he did was right.

Theo realizes the Oliver likes Emma and Emma might like him too. Theo tries to talk to Henry but he doesn't respond well. Jacob's regular psychologist testifies about what AS is and how it manifest in Jacob. She explains why Jacob has acted violently in the past. She says that's likely what happened with Jess. Jacob stands up and denies it. There is a sensory break. Theo doesn't go. Theo thinks about Jacob not trying to help him before, that he only wants to help himself. Wrong! Another clue. Jacob is trying to help Theo. Possibly only because it is one of the house rules.

Jacob doesn't know why his psychologist said that and why Oliver isn't telling the truth. He feels like he's trapped in a nightmare. Jacob tells Emma that he didn't loss his temper with Jess and that he didn't mean to hurt her, referring, of course, to the bruises he made dragging her to the culvert and the tooth he knocked out getting her downstairs. Emma assumes that he's says he hurt Jess but didn't mean it. Helen tries to point out that diagnosis AS is a judgment call and maybe Jacob doesn't have AS.

Jacob's guidance counselor testifies. Court adjourns. Oliver makes an excuse to go to the Hunts. He tries to get Emma to ride there with him, but she refuses. Jacob rides with Oliver. Jacob tell Oliver he is not autistic, he has autism. Henry says he's staying until the trial is over. Emma offers to let him stay at the house. Oliver is jealous. Jacob walks in on them kissing as they make up. He's runs off.

Jacob is angry because he thinks if Emma likes Oliver she won't be focused on his trial. Emma slap him. She apologizes and says she didn't mean to hurt him. She realizes that maybe that's what happened to Jess. Henry talks to Emma when they both can't sleep that night. They come to an understanding and a truce. Emma thinks about the only other time she remembers blowing up at Jacob. Then she realizes he would never understand love.

Oliver and Jacob talk. Oliver tells Jacob liking Emma only makes him want to win Jacob's case more. A forensic psychologist testifies. There is a sensory break. Jacob thinks everyone is lying about him. He just wants to tell the truth. He didn't want Jess to die. It wasn't his fault. It was an accident. Emma thinks he killed Jess by accident. At this point, I start thinking that Emma is going to admit to Jacob killing Jess by accident. Jacob is going to stand up and say that he didn't kill Jess. But Jodi will pull a twist and Jacob will go to jail for creating a crime scene and not coming forward that he didn't kill Jess.

Emma does admit that Jacob killed Jess by accident. Jacob is happy that Emma told the jury the truth. Jacob think that he's not obsessed with violent crime, he's obsessed with solving it. The judge wants to stay in court longer to finish Emma's testimony. Jacob is anxious because it is close to 4:30 when CrimeBusters is on. Jacob has a major meltdown and Emma is unable to answer whether she thinks Jacob killed Jess. Jacob is put in a holding cell and talks to Rich about the case.

Jacob wants to testify. Oliver says no and tries to rest his case. Jacob insists on testifying, as is his right to make that decision. Jacob tells about creating the crime scene to make it look like Mark tried to make it look like Jess was kidnapped because Mark killed Jess. He says there isn't much to tell about Jess' death, when asked. He says he's not sorry for killing her because he knows in his head that he didn't kill her. But it looks like he's saying he did. I wonder if Jacob thinks he's on trial for creating the crime scene. If so, why is he admitting it. Doesn't Jacob realize they think he killed Jess. Why doesn't he say he didn't and that she was dead when he got there. The attorneys make their closing statements.

The jury deliberates for three days. Jacob comes to terms with Oliver dating Emma. Emma feels like she's saying goodbye to Jacob. Then it is Theo's birthday. Theo thinks everyone will forget, but they don't. Jacob has a gift for Theo and no one knows what it is or why he got Theo something as Jacob doesn't give gifts usually. Jacob gives Theo Jess's iPod. I thought he was keeping it to keep evidence of Theo killing Jess suppressed. Does Jacob think no one will know it's Jess' iPod. Then the truth about Jess' accidental death come out and the truth about Jacob setting up a crime scene to protect Theo. They head to court to explain what happened and we are left to assume Jacob gets off. This is a rather upbeat ending from Jodi. Usually her books end sad.

Next book, I'm taking notes as I'm reading, =) instead of flipping through the long chapters of this book and posting as I go.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jodi Picoult wrote to us!

Hi all, I'm so glad to hear you're reading House Rules and hope it sparks some great discussion.  Many thanks for choosing to read my novel, when there are so many great ones out there!


Bonnie's note:  I emailed Jodi Picoult this afternoon, and five minutes later -- yes, 5 minutes later -- she sent back this message for us.

House Rules ~ fourth set of discussion questions

1.  What does a crumpled piece of paper have to do with the story?
2.  How does Theo’s interaction with his father in San Francisco change his attitude toward Henry?  Why does he erupt into laughter when Henry offers him a few twenty-dollar bills?  Is the short trip also a turning point for Emma?
3.  "You’re either a father twenty-four/seven or not at all" (p. 448).  Is Emma being fair to Henry?  What does House Rules have to say about parenthood and its responsibilities?
4.  The final case study in the book — "Case 11: My Brother’s Keeper" — outlines the events that occurred in the course of the novel.  It ends with a single line:  "I’d do it all over again" (p. 531).  Does this line reveal anything new about Jacob?  Does it change your feelings toward him in any way?
5.  What did you know about autism and AS before reading House Rules?   Did the novel challenge your views on the subject, or on disability more generally?  Is it an educational book?

House Rules - Chapter 9 (pgs 379-445)

Only one chapter left to go, I think. So I should finish the book tonight. Then I can see if my theory is anywhere near correct.

In Case 9: Pajama Game, Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted because his story of the events that lead to his wife and daughter's murder didn't match the evidence. Some thing(s) about this case are bound to not match the evidence since a crime scene was set up that wasn't the actual crime scene. Indeed, I believe there was no crime at all. Just a crime scene that Jacob created to protect Theo.

lol @ Jacob in the yellow pimp suit. If it is that much trouble to get him into dressy clothes, how do they expect him to stay in them willingly. Theo tries to tell Emma what he knows about that happened the day Jess died, but she assumes his concerns are about something else. Emma wears a yellow dress to help Jacob better deal with not wearing yellow on Yellow Wednesday. I don't think it was noted before now that Jacob also wore the color of the day as well as ate it.

Jacob remembers being fired from his first job for not wearing the uniform due to certain color days. Prior to telling his boss about his AS, he had made excuses about this for several weeks with no trouble. It was only after Jacob told him that he was fired. No one anticipates the reporters at the courthouse. Jacob has a meltdown and flees. Oliver has to tackle him. Jacob closes his eyes and they all sing and that gets Jacob through the reporters and into the courthouse without another meltdown. Jacob realizes the Oliver thinks why he's not guilty is not the same as the truth. Jacob remembers calling a girl out for lying in his social skills class. It's very important to Jacob not to lie. He remembers practicing with Jess asking a girl to a dance. He's not doing a very good job until he really opens up and asks Jess herself to the dance. Jess is so happy about the sweetness of his declaration, thinking he is just practicing, that she hugs him. Jacob lets her and he likes the hug. Jacob cares for Jess in the ways that he can. It seems even clearer that he wouldn't hurt her.

Helen Sharp, possible last named so by Jodi because of her harshness in attitude, the prosecuting attorney, crumples a piece of paper in her opening argument, setting Jacob off into a meltdown because he can't stand paper to be crumpled and not folded. It seems like Helen might be aware of this fact and might have done this to set Jacob off to show the jury how easy it is to do and how erratic and possibly violent Jacob acts when it happens. Jacob just wants to paper smoothed. Emma doesn't want to be pitied for having a child like Jacob, she would not pity someone else for the same. But she hates that she might be pitied for having a child who is a murder because she would pity someone else who did. Notice that Emma thinks "if Jacob is a murderer" here, not "if Jacob were a murderer". Despite Emma saying she believed Jacob when he said he did not kill Jess when she asked him, it seems she still has her doubts. Emma worried about what kind of child she's raised. Oliver makes sure the paper is smoothed for Jacob to calm him down.

Jacob hates Mark. Did Jacob frame Mark because of this. Mark distracts Jess from Jacob during their sessions. Jacob assumes he is boring her. He thinks he likes her. He is hurt. Jess wants Jacob to meet Mark. They all go skiing. Jacob thinks Mark is good with people, specifically girls, but not smart. Jacob hates Mark because he is then unsure if Jess is truly his friend. Mark calls Jacob retarded. Mark testifies. He says he's hung out with Jacob several times but paid little attention to him. Jacob has noticed that Mark abuses Jess physically. Oliver gets Mark to admit that the bruised on Jess' neck are from where he choked her the morning she died.

A CSI testifies that Jacob's fingerprint was found in the kitchen and Mark's boot prints were found outside the window where it was set up to look like a break in. Jacob points out to Oliver that Luminol can have a false positive with reacting the bleach.

After an inappropriate reaction to the ME's testimony, Jacob has a sensory break. During it, he comment that he would have killed to be at the autopsy. Oliver asks under his breath did you. Oliver thinks Jacob may have actually killed Jess.

Rich returns to the narrative. Its seems like Rich and Emma aren't to be at this point. I still don't like Rich. Rich presents Jacob's journal entry about Jess' crime scene. He says that no one would know all that except the police and the killer. Or someone who set up the crime scene, as we know Jacob has admitted to doing. During a sensory break, Jacob is proud that the cops have figured out his crime scene and thinks that Oliver is doing a good job. Emma and Oliver are more and more worried about the outcome of the trial. Oliver points out in court that perhaps the journal entry is Jacob trying to help solve the case. But then it is reveal that Jacob wrote at the end of the journal entry "solved: me" and underlined it ten times.

Theo tells Jacob after dinner that night that he was there the day Jess died. Jacob tells Theo he knows and that's why he did it. Theo thinks Jacob killed Jess to protect him. Jess was alive when he left. Jacob thinks Theo killed Jess and set up the crime scene to protect him. Jess was dead when he got there. It seems like there was a small window of time between Theo leaving and Jess being alive and Jacob seeing Theo and finding Jess dead. I'm still going with Jess slipped and fell.

Jacob watches a home video of himself before the AS manifested, back when he was normal. Midway through the video, it has been taped over with Jacob's prom date. Jess is on the tape. Jacob is watching to see Jess again. Jacob realizes he might have done something wrong. I think this is covering for Theo, not killing Jess.

Emma can't sleep that night. She imagines life if Jacob were a normal boy. She goes to see Oliver. He is writing his opening statement. He's having a hard time with it. They admit their worries and fears about Jacob's trial and their lives. Oliver tells Emma how he feels. Then he makes a move. Emma lets him. They spend the night together. Emma feels everything might be okay then. I am so happy about this. I felt sure Jodi wouldn't end up pairing Emma and Oliver together, even though to me they seem to be a well-matched pair.

Emma and Oliver go to Emma's house in the morning and discover that Henry is there.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

HR ~ accommodations for Jacob

Jennifer posted in her reading notes of chapter 8:
"Oliver gets four of the the five concessions he asked the judge for."
This gets us into the discussion I had in mind when I asked in question #6:
"Oliver requests accommodations for Jacob in court.  Do they seem fair? The first five minutes of the trial show the constant vigilance needed to keep Jacob from having a meltdown and how much Emma does know about her son.  Let's talk about the kind of provisions made for Jacob at home, at school, in the wider community, and in court.  Do you think they are excessive, inadequate, appropriate, fair or unfair?"
What were those concessions Oliver got for Jacob?  What did the judge NOT allow?

Changing the subject (slightly).  Did you notice that the judge also quotes something from a movie, after Jacob does?  In Oliver's section (see page 195), Jacob is being dragged out of court, shouting:
I look from her to my client, who has gone boneless and is being dragged out a different door.  "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Jacob yells.

The judge narrows his eyes at me.

"It's from Planet of the Apes," I mutter.

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore," he replies.  "That's from Network.  I highly recommend you watch the movie after you get your client under control."

House Rules - Chapter 8 (pgs 335-378)

I'm admit that I wanted to get my comments on Chapter 8 posted so I can continue reading on and finish House Rules. I've lost interest a bit and want to pick it back up before I end up moving on to another book. There really hasn't been much more on the "mystery" of Jess' death yet so perhaps that is why.

In Case 8: One in Six Billion, Gary Ridgway is caught because of technology advances that pinned the murders conclusively on him. Jacob conclusively admits to setting up Jess' crime scene in his journals.

Oliver is preparing for the trail at the Hunts and watching Jacob. Theo is secretive and testy. Oliver discovers the Jacob wrote about Jess in his CrimeBusters journals. I am assuming Jacob wrote how he set up the crime scene. Did Jacob really just think that Jess' death was a just chance for him to set up a crime scene for real. No, I don't think so. I think Jacob had his reasons for doing what he did, other than an obsessive hobby.

Then Theo is gone. lol @ Theo thinking he'd need a passport to go from New England to CA. We now know that Theo didn't kill Jess. The way Theo lies to and acts with the nice grandma on the plane show Theo trying on the kind of live he could have had.

Jacob finds out that Theo went to CA via his computer. Jacob relates the time he slept outside of Theo's room to convince him that there was no dinosaur in the house because he wants to get a full night's sleep. Emma think it's because Jacob loves Theo and is trying to make him feel protected. Jacob seem to understand what emotions are and when people have them but he cannot do anything to change them so he doesn't care. Jacob basically says that he was looking out for himself in the case of Jess' death but that is was also good for someone else too.

Oliver pays for Emma's same day airline ticket to CA with money he doesn't have. He is surprised the Henry doesn't know about Jacob's arrest and upcoming trial. He says he'll watch Jacob. I'm surprise Jacob isn't more upset about Emma's absence considering he doesn't like changes to his routine.

Emma reminisces about meeting and dating Henry. Henry sounds like he might be somewhere on the high function end of the Autism spectrum himself. Not picking up emotional cues, talking about lots of detailed facts, and having a set routine. Emma and Henry clearly still have issues with each other. Emma meets Henry's wife and daughters and think this should have been her life with him.

Oliver wants the jury to be able to see AS in actions so he takes Jacob to court to set up his rights under the disabilities act. Oliver gets four of the the five concessions he asked the judge for.

Theo sleeps in one of Henry's daughter's rooms. She didn't know she had a brother. He does not tell her about Jacob. Henry's study is magazine perfect, not lived in. Theo wants to impress his father with the young man he's become in hopes that his father would regret not knowing him. His father has no response and tries to give him money. See suspicion above of Henry having Autism. Henry gives Emma money for that trial. Emma and Theo imagine vacationing in Hawaii as a family, which will never happen because of Jacob.

Jacob talks to a shrink who will testify in court about him. Jacob has inappropriate and misleading responses. Jacob thinks it is wrong to kill someone but can't admit it because it would be breaking another rule. Here might be a tie-in to the title, House Rules, because one of the house rules is "take care of your brother, he's the only one you've got". Jacob thinks he's helping Theo.

Jacob gets to set up a crime scene as a reward for a good grade. Oliver thinks it's creepy that Jacob does this and where he chooses to set up the crime scene. Oliver keys into Jacob's saying he was following the rules when he met with the court psychologist. Oliver insists that Jacob has to dress appropriately in court. Emma confesses to upsetting Jacob on purpose before his court psychologist appointment.

This chapter seemed to be more about Emma and Theo and what they were living through, with some insights on Jacob.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bonnie's answer to #5 ~ third set of DQs for HR

5.  The evidence points to Mark as a suspect.  He claims he’s innocent.  What does Emma see on the news that changes everything?  How would you react?  Would you call the police?

I've given this a lot of thought and even discussed it with "Book Buddy Donna," my best friend.  I have decided that I would have to talk it over with my child first.  At the very least, I think I would have talked to a lawyer before putting my child into the hands of the system or, as Emma presumed, a policeman.  On the other hand, I remember talking with my children about drugs one day, probably when they were in their early teens.  One of them turned to me, with the eyes of all three looking at me, and said, "If you caught us with drugs, you'd turn us in, wouldn't you?"  I immediately said, "Yes."  But decades later I am still thinking about it.  What would I have done, really?

My reasoning then -- and every time I have explained it to others (and myself) since then -- was that "Yes" was the only possible answer.  If I had hemmed and hawed and said, "Well, I don't know," then I might as well have said, "You go right ahead and experiment with all the drugs you please."  As long as my children thought I was absolutely, positively against it, I hoped they would think twice before trying it.  As far as I know, they left the stuff alone.  Or if any of them tried anything at all, they kept it well hidden.

Emma, of course, was faced with the dilemma of whether her son could have committed murder.  In her (fictional) case, it wasn't a matter of stating what she WOULD do, but of deciding what she MUST do.  She knew without a doubt that Jacob had been there, that he had wrapped the victim in his own multi-colored quilt.  Was she afraid that he HAD killed her?  Whether she thought it could have been by accident or not, she had to have wondered.

On the other hand, she obviously came to regret doing it the way she did.  Emma was more trusting of Rich than she should have been, and even she could see that later.  What do you think would have been the best way to handle this situation?  Yes, we can use hindsight here, so what do you think?

HR ~ third set of DQs

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shanghai Girls (SG) ~ by Lisa See, 2009

During June 2010, we'll discuss Shanghai Girls, a 2009 novel by Lisa See.
Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries.  They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most.  In 1937 these two are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy.  And one day their father tells these modern and carefree daughters that he has gambled away their wealth and is selling them as wives to “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)—where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months—they feel the harsh reality of leaving home.  They face terrible sacrifices and make impossible choices.  And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know, but through it all the two heroines hold fast to who they are — Shanghai girls.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Choosing a book for June

Here are three book suggestions.  Leave comments, so I'll know which one most of us want to read next.  If you think we should read all three (or two of the three) in the coming months, please say so.

The Wives of Henry Oades, a novel by Johanna Moran, was published in 2010.
When Henry Oades accepts an accountancy post in New Zealand, his wife, Margaret, and their children follow him to exotic Wellington. But while Henry is an adventurer, Margaret is not. Their new home is rougher and more rustic than they expected—and a single night of tragedy shatters the family when the native Maori stage an uprising, kidnapping Margaret and her children.

For months, Henry scours the surrounding wilderness, until all hope is lost and his wife and children are presumed dead. Grief-stricken, he books passage to California. There he marries Nancy Foreland, a young widow with a new baby, and it seems they’ve both found happiness in the midst of their mourning—until Henry’s first wife and children show up, alive and having finally escaped captivity.

Narrated primarily by the two wives, and based on a real-life legal case, The Wives of Henry Oades is the riveting story of what happens when Henry, Margaret, and Nancy face persecution for bigamy.
The Help ~ by Kathryn Stockett was published in 2009.
Skeeter, 22 years old, has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss.  She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger.  Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child.  Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way.  She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi.  She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job.  Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation.  But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that puts them all at risk.  Why?  Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times.  And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
Shanghai Girls, a novel by Lisa See, was published in 2009.
May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)—where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months—they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.
Leave a comment, and consider it your "vote" for the next book or books that we will discuss here among the book buddies.

Shirley's answers to third set of DQs

1. What does a ponytail holder have to do with the story?
One of the things Jacob appreciated about Jess was that she realized that loose hair bothered him so wore her hair in a ponytail.
2. House Rules is written from the perspective of several different characters, each taking turns to narrate a chapter. Does this technique work for you?
I like not only getting the different perspectives, but that the book clearly indicates who the narrator is.
3. 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?
It is as if AS is the focal point of their lives rather than their relationships with each other. However, I am impressed with how well Emma has done for her family. The boys realize the stress that AS has put in their lives and would like the focus to be on each of them instead (every child wants to be their mother's favorite child).
4. On page 146, Jacob says being on the other side of dead isn’t that different from having Asperger’s. What do you think he means by that?
The inability/difficulty to communicate with the living is possibly the comparison between the dead and persons with AS.
5. The evidence points to Mark as a suspect. He claims he’s innocent. What does Emma see on the news that changes everything? How would you react? Would you call the police?
Seeing Jacob's quilt at the crime scene makes Emma aware of his probably involvement. I'd have talked to Jacob before calling the police. I'd then try to call a lawyer.
6. Mark Maguire thinks Asperger's Syndrome is a "Get Out of Jail Free card" (page 285). Oliver requests accommodations for Jacob in court. Do they seem fair? The first five minutes of the trial show the constant vigilance needed to keep Jacob from having a meltdown and how much Emma does know about her son. Let's talk about the kind of provisions made for Jacob at home, at school, in the wider community, and in court. Do you think they are excessive, inadequate, appropriate, fair or unfair?
I think the allowances being made for Jacob seem appropriate even though the ones in court still need to come around. Although society cannot afford to accomodate everyone's special needs, I do think that when possible accomodations should be made and at least an understanding should be attempted on the differences that others confront in life.
7. What do Skittles have to do with the story?
Ditto to Lynne's answer. Glad to have you join us, Lynne!


Lynne's answers to third set of DQs

1. What does a ponytail holder have to do with the story?
A ponytail holder is important in the story because Jacob hates loose hair and this a good solution to the problem.
2.House Rules is written from the perspective of several different characters, each taking turns to narrate a chapter. Does this technique work for you?
This works very well for me. I would like to see more books written this way.
3. 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?
In this book Asperger's Syndrome robs the entire family of any normalcy with the rest of the world. Both boys feel the lonliness and aloneness in their lives.With no father around to provide for them and be a help mate to the mother, mom is wearing out and the love and comfort of a cozy home that the rest of the world seems to have is lacking in the Hunt family.
4. On page 146 Jacob says being on the other side of dead isn't that different from have Asperger's.
It is like that wall of separation that you can't break through. You can't connect with others and you can't feel them.
5. The evidence points to Mark as a suspect. He claims he's innocent. What does Emma see on the news that changes everything? How would you react? Would you call the police?
Emma sees the rainbow patchwork family quilt and no matter how hard she tries she can't unsee it. I think I might have talked to Jacob first about it. It is hard to know what I would do in this situation and I really don't want to criticize Emma in such a predicament. However I would want to search every avenue of help I could think of before turning him over to the police. But then I would eventually call the police. In the end you always have to do what is right.
6. Don't have time to answer this one right now.

7. What do Skittles have to do with the story?
Skittles is Jacob's absolute favorite candy and was used to sweeten Jacob into talking at the police station. (like giving candy to a baby)


Monday, May 17, 2010


POSTS ~ are noticed, so talk about the book in posts.  Answer questions about the book in posts, so they are easily spotted and can contribute to the ongoing discussion.

COMMENTS ~ are more hidden, and people must take time to look for them.  Make the discussion easy for buddies by putting only the less important stuff in the comments -- maybe short comments on something someone said.

LABELS ~ are helpful, so put "HR" and your name in the labels as we read this book.  Or else I will add it later so people who click on "everything we've discussed about HR" (now or years from now) will find our full discussion of House Rules.  I have been making the labels uniform, but it saves me time if you do it right at the beginning.

~~~ Bonnie

Shall we party on Essencia Island?

How many of us are interested in having a party on Essencia Island at the end of the month?  That's the online "place" we go to devour tons of (cyber) food and laugh with one another and the characters from our book.  Yes, that's right, Jacob will be there, along with Theo and Emma and Rich and Oliver -- and even that prosecutor, if she wants to come.  What was her name, again?  Does anybuddy remember?  Though it may freak Jacob out to see her there, Jess (who was alive during part of the book) could very well show up.  The Island is magical that way.

Another question we should consider -- and the reason I'm asking this question so early in the month:
What must be do to make Essencia Island "friendly" for Jacob?  Is there anything we should NOT bring to the party?  Anything special we should DO beforehand?  I already know we should avoid any food that happens to be orange, like these cheddar cheese cubes.  (Though I don't see a problem with cheese of another color.)
Does everybuddy remember how to reach Essencia Island?  Either click on the name of the island in this post or on the picture of Essencia Island on the sidebar.  Got that?  I wouldn't want you to get lost on your way to the end-of-book party!

Bonnie's answer to question #4 of the first set of DQs

Here's question #4 from the first set of DQs:
4.  Jacob lists twelve things he can't stand (page 20).  Do you see his logic?  We all have things we could put into such a list.  What would yours be?
Here are the twelve things Jacob lists:
(1)  The sound of paper being crumpled.  I can't ell you why, but it makes me feel like someone's doing that to all my internal organs.
(2)  Too much noise or flashing lights.
(3)  Having plans change.
(4)  Missing CrimeBusters, which is on the USA Network at 4:30 every day, thanks to the wonders of syndication.  Even though I know all 114 of the episodes by heart, watching them daily is as important to me as taking insulin would be to a diabetic.  My whole day is planned around it, and if I can't have my fix, I get shaky.
(5) When my mother puts my clothes away.  I keep them in rainbow order, ROYGBIV, and the colors can't touch.  She does her best, but the last time, she completely forgot about indigo.
(6)  If someone else takes a bite of my food, I have to cut off the part that his/her saliva has touched before I can eat any more of it.
(7)  Loose hair.  It freaks me out, which is why mine is military short.
(8)  Being touched by someone I don't know.
(9)  Foods with membranes, like custards; or foods that explode in your mouth, like peas.
(10)  Even numbers.
(11)  When people call me retarded, which I am not.
(12)  The color orange.  It means danger, and there's no rhyme for it in English, which makes it suspicious.  (Theo wants to know why I can tolerate things that are silver, then, but I won't even rise to the argument.)
Some of these answer questions I have been "showing" you in pictures, like his being bothered by orange (first set of DQs) and by loose hair (third set of DQs).  ROYGBIV is mentioned several times in the book.  Do you know ROYGBIV (which I've also seen printed as Roy G. Biv) stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet?  I have no idea why the designer of the color wheel pictured above gave red twice as much space -- unless it because s/he couldn't divide a circle into seven parts.

I, too, prefer odd numbers.  But my reasoning is different from Jacob's.  I have always liked being just a little bit "odd"!  The two houses I've owned were numbered 109 and 1909.  (Yep, that's odd.)  My current zip code is 37409, and nine is my favorite number.  See?  I'm odd.  Jacob would probably like me, huh?

House Rules ~ third set of discussion questions

1.  What does a ponytail holder have to do with the story?

2.  House Rules is written from the perspective of several different characters, each taking turns to narrate a chapter.  Does this technique work for you?

3. 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?

4.  On page 146, Jacob says being on the other side of dead isn’t that different from having Asperger’s.  What do you think he means by that?

5.  The evidence points to Mark as a suspect.  He claims he’s innocent.  What does Emma see on the news that changes everything?  How would you react?  Would you call the police?

6.  Mark Maguire thinks Asperger's Syndrome is a "Get Out of Jail Free card" (page 285).  Oliver requests accommodations for Jacob in court.  Do they seem fair? The first five minutes of the trial show the constant vigilance needed to keep Jacob from having a meltdown and how much Emma does know about her son.  Let's talk about the kind of provisions made for Jacob at home, at school, in the wider community, and in court.  Do you think they are excessive, inadequate, appropriate, fair or unfair?

7.  What do Skittles have to do with the story?

House Rules - Chapter 7 (pgs 293-335)

In Case 7: Blood is Thicker Than Water, Ernest Brendel doesn't dispose of all the evidence linking him to killing his friend and his friend's family. It is pointed out that friends can end up being enemies.

As I lie in bed last night after reading the case but before beginning the chapter, I feel down as I think about how Jodi isn't likely to pair Emma and Oliver. Rich will come around to Jacob's innocent and help clear Jacob. Emma will realize he's a decent guy. Oliver will be a family friend. =( I usually pull for the underdog in love triangles.

Theo's section on how he's going to be the one eventually taking care of Jacob was honest and real. I'd feel that way if I were him. I think a lot of people might.

Oliver thinks about Emma. He thinks about cooking according to color scheme. Emma asks Oliver to watch the boys. Emma goes to the bank to take out a second mortgage. She is denied because she's unemployed. Oliver plays Wii with the boys. He cooks yellow foods and saves a plate for Emma.

Oliver goes to court to get Jacob's interrogation by Rich to be inadmissible during the trial. Jacob has a minor meltdown after Rich implies that Emma thought he had something to do with Jess' death. Emma doesn't look Jacob in the eye as she tells him that she believes he didn't kill Jess. Oliver gets an expert on police relations with Autistic people to testify by trading him a consult on an injured horse. Jacob then takes the stand and by interacting with Oliver and prosecutor shows the judge he can be misunderstood.

Emma invites Oliver to lunch the next day. Jacob reads the newspaper in the car on the way home and discovers that Dr. Henry Lee, a famous forensic scientist, will be speaking relatively nearby. He really wants to go, but is unable to understand that he can't go because of being under house arrest. He thinks Emma should be able to change this. He thinks Emma thinks he killed Jess.

The bit with Farley McDuff from Neurodiversity Nation was just odd. I really hope Jodi doesn't go somewhere weird with that. I guess he is representing the extreme side of Autism rights. I am hoping this doesn't somehow get Jacob's case into the national media.

Jacob is still not giving up on seeing Dr. Henry Lee. Emma is firm that he cannot go. Emma asks if he killed Jess. Jacob says he did not and Emma believes him. She wonders about his lies by omission though. Were they deliberate, or did Jacob simply not say anymore because he wasn't asked about it specifically.

Jacob thinks about how he'd dreamed of studying under Dr. Lee in college. He admits that he set up the crime scene to point to someone else's involvement but ended up a suspect himself. Did Jacob set up the crime scene to point to a certain person's involvement to frame someone, to throw the trail off of someone, or because he knows who it really was. The police haven't figured out who the crime scene is supposed to point to, unless it is Mark.

Jacob calls 911 and tells them he is being abuse by his mother because Emma won't take him to see Dr. Lee. Rich ends up being the one to respond. Jacob quickly realizes his mistake. He hides his stuff, which he is worried might also end up confiscated, and then he hides under the bed. Rich insists on talking to Jacob about what he did. He's nicer about it. We're supposed to realize that Rich isn't that bad, that's he's not a jerk. I don't think he is, but I still don't like him any better.

For a smart 17-year-old, how can Theo possible believe that the police's involvement with Jacob is to get to him from breaking into people's homes and basically doing nothing.

In Jacob's dream, Dr. Lee tells Jacob that he understands why he did what he did.

Mostly paraphrasing on this chapter. I didn't seem to have much to say. In regards to the case from the beginning of the chapter, Jacob left the ROYGBIV quilt on Jess and he admitted to moving the body and cleaning up the crime scene. But is there something the real killer, if there is one, missed that will point to him. Rich being the friend who ends up being an enemy is too obvious. Maybe Oliver, but he's growing as a lawyer and learning he has good instincts in law too in addition to with horses. Theo or Emma, for not being completely sure of his innocence.

Where is everybuddy in the book?

I don't want to post ahead and spoil it for anybuddy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

House Rules - Chapter 6 (pgs 242-292)

In Case 6: Bite Me, Ted Bundy is convicted because a very thorough CSI measured bite marks on a victims buttocks in a photograph which was used in the trial years later. I think this maybe be foreshadowing that Rich finds some detail in Jacob's stuff that he confiscated that exonerates Jacob, or Oliver learns some detail from Emma about Jacob that helps him win Jacob's trial.

I think Jacob would have known about the Luminol reaction with hemoglobin that will make blood fluorescent in the dark. The comment later in that section about getting a print off a porous surface seems to indicate that Jacob knows more about forensic science than the average CSI.

"So why do you make me feel so small?" From the comment on the pink index card hit home for me. I was bullied badly as a young girl. I remember all too well how it felt to feel complete alone in a crowd of my peers.

I'm not liking Rich too much. I get him, I think. He means well. He wants to do his job well. But he's not coming across as a kind person. I think he could be nicer if he wanted and make this easier on Emma and Jacob. It seems like he tries a little. I think deep down his instinct knows that Jacob isn't a killer.

Jacob could probably well go to law school, ace it, and pass the bar with a perfect score. But he'd make a lousy lawyer in the courtroom. I suppose he practice some type of dense boring law for corporations that would never require him to leave his office but earn him mega money.

The state of Vermont does not sound like a good place for an innocent mentally disabled defendant to stand trial for a criminal case. Winning with an insanity defense will likely send Jacob to a mental hospital. I still cannot believe that no one, not even Emma or Theo, has asked Jacob what happened exactly.

Clue - When Oliver tells Jacob his best defense is an affirmative defense, Jacob lights up and says defense of another person. (pg 264) Oliver asks him who and Jacob quote a movie. Oliver then moves to asking Jacob about using an insanity defense. But who was Jacob defending when Jess died? Could Jacob have been trying to keep Jess from doing something to protect a third person or herself?

Emma quits her job. Theo finds out just how little money the family has. He wants to earn money to help out.

I like Oliver. I wish he were a better and/or more experience lawyer, for Jacob's sake, but I like him. He's a good guy. He has a dog, which he totes in his jacket to keep warm. He gets the certain colored foods on a certain day. He wants to help Jacob to the best ends that he can. He likes Emma. Maybe Emma could like him. She probably much older than him. I don't think he will care. I think it could bother her. I think he'd be good with Jacob. He could get Jacob.

House Rules - Chapter 5 (pgs 184- 241)

In Case 5: The Not-So-Good Doctor, Bill Sybers was caught for the murder of his wife by rushing and overlooking or being unaware of a fact that made it easier to catch him. Oliver rushes through Jacobs arraignment and doesn't really know what he's doing, putting Jacob in a place he shouldn't be. Repeatedly in this chapter, people aren't told Jacob has AS as he moves from the police station to the court to jail. It's only a loose connection. Anyone have any other thoughts? I am enjoying trying to link the relevance of the cases opening each chapter to the chapter.

This chapter is all about the missteps that occur leading to Jacob being put in jail, which he can't handle. Oliver is ineffective as a lawyer. Don't lawyer learn how to handle court appearances in law school, such as mock trials or shadowing? I get that he's inexperienced but it seems like he should have some idea how to proceed. Also, I'd have thought there would be a special prison or prison wing for prisoners with disabilities. No one in the prison even seems to know Jacob has AS. A nurse is there administering these drugs to Jacob. Surely, she would know about the characteristics of Autism or AS if she knew Jacob had it. Rich seems to know Jacob is acting oddly for someone who has just been charged with a crime. He knows not to leave Jacob in the cell at the police station.

This chapter didn't give in any further insight into how Jess died. I also didn't find it as interesting as the previous chapters. I still want to know what happens next, but the (mostly minor) characters are seeming somewhat stereotypical. The chapter didn't seem like it was furthering the story much either.

Friday, May 14, 2010

House Rules - Chapter 4 (pgs 147-183)

In Case 4, Something's Fishy, Stella Nickells is caught for killing her husband by a small detail she neglected to think of - the Algae Destroyer in the cyanide in the Excedrin capsules. In Chapter 4, Jacob is caught having moved Jess' body by a small detail he didn't think would get linked back to him - the ROYGBIV quilt.

Rich thinks back on Gracie, a girl who committed suicide due to her father molesting her and her mother not being there for her because her brother had Down's Syndrome. Rich tries to tell Gracie's mother after the funeral about what was happening to Gracie but she doesn't want to know. I think what an awful woman and think she did know something was very wrong to some extent. This could also be foreshadowing to Theo's acting out due to Jacob's taking more of Emma's attention. I don't think Theo is going to do anything to himself or others, nor do I think he killed Jess. I have a theory about what I think happened at the end of the post. I also don't think Emma wouldn't want to know if Theo was troubled. I think she genuinely hasn't noticed. Also, between Mark and Jacob, Rich isn't the best initial judge of character for a cop.

I don't understand why Emma takes Jacob in to tell his story about why the ROYGBIV quilt is on Jess without questioning him herself and finding out why. She's already aware that Jacob's AS might be interpreted incorrectly by someone not familiar with AS. It seems possible that she really thinks that Jacob might have killed Jess unintentionally. Maybe she doesn't ask him because she is scared of him or scared of what he might say.

This book seems to be set now, time-wise. Most people know something of what Autism is now. Rich seems to that Autism makes someone act differently, yet he completely doesn't take it into account when assuming Jacob's guilt. No further research to see what is normal acting for a person with AS.

Now for my current theory on what I think happened. Jess gets out of the shower, she reaches for a towel, and she's dripping wet. She sees Theo. She screams, maybe wraps the towel around her, and goes to chase Theo. Theo turns and runs out of the house, knocking into things and making a mess in his haste to get out of there before he's caught. Jess slips on the wet floor of the master bath (I remember either Jacob or the cops mentioning something about the master bath having been cleaned and I remember Rich mentioning it had be used recently), she falls, hits her head, and dies from the head injury. Jacob sees Theo leave and drop the iPod, which he collects. He assumes that Theo either saw Jess dead and that Mark had killed Jess or, correctly, that Jess had died accidentally. Either way, Jacob knows he needs to clean up the crime scene after Theo had been there so Theo isn't falsely accused.

House Rules ~ second set of discussion questions

1.  What does a used tea bag have to do with the story?

2.  Theo is the younger brother but he has to take care of Jacob.  How does Theo handle the conflict of his position in the family?  Do you agree that he has it "worse than Jacob"?  This quote is from Theo's section (page 107):
True confession number one:  When I'm walking down the hall in school and I see Jacob at the other end of the corridor, I intentionally divert my path to avoid him.

True confession number two:  Once, when a bunch of kids started making fun of Jacob as he attempted to play kickball -- a hot mess if ever there was one -- I pretended that I didn't know him; I laughed along, too.

True confession number three:  I truly believe that I have it worse than Jacob, because he's oblivious most of the time to the fact that people want nothing to do with him; but I am one hundred percent aware that they're all looking at me and thinking, Oh, that's the bizarre kid's brother.
3.  Emma maintains that she loves both of her sons equally, although she acknowledges that most of her time and attention are taken up by Jacob.  What are your feelings regarding the way Emma treats Theo?  Do you hold her or Jacob accountable for letting Theo go unnoticed and friendless to the point of breaking into other people’s homes?  Why or why not?

4. What does Krazy Glue have to do with the story?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

House Rules - Chapter 3 (pgs 90-146)

I read Chapter 3 on Friday night so I'm going with the flipping through the pages, skimming, and commenting method again. It was a long chapter but it felt like a shorter read than Chapter 2. I remember thinking after I read it that I didn't have have as much to comment on as I did on Chapter 2 so hopefully this is a shorter post. I do want to hurry up and get it posted so I can read Chapter 4.

The case opening Chapter 3 is titled Bragged, Taunted, "Kaught". I can't see how that relates to this chapter. Thoughts? I thought a possible link might be to the previous chapters in that Jacob solved the case of the man who died by hypothermia and Rich eventually found out who Jacob was, but it's not a very good link.

As soon as Rich starts commenting on the neighborhood where Jess is house sitting for her professor, I just know that's the house Theo broke into and Jess is the girl he saw. I think then that maybe Jacob saw Theo leave Jess' place then walked in on Jess dead and that's why he melted down. But he wasn't scared or angry with Theo so if he did see Jess dead, he knew his brother well enough to know he didn't kill her. Or he knew Theo did kill her but that it was an accidental death (knew by forensic science) and he's covering up for Theo. Then there is the mug with the tea bag in it and I know for sure that that is the house that Theo broke into and Jess is the girl he saw.

Jacob fingerprints something of Jess'. I suspect it's her iPod. His suspicions are confirmed. I think he finds Theo's fingerprints. If they were Mark's, I think he'd turn it in. Then he hides it. Theo's prints will be on the tea mug and other things in the house though.

Theo clearly doesn't know Jess is dead or was hurt. So she wasn't when he left after seeing her naked.

Rich is definitely interested in Emma. He likes that she's single and he compliments her.

Did Jacob take the stuff in the backpack because it was incriminating towards who killed Jess or because he wanted her stuff to remember her. Is the stuff in the backpack the odd stuff that Rich and Mark thought wasn't what she'd take if she left on her own.

The alphabetical CD tower is explained. And it seems that Jacob took the backpack to investigate further. He hands it over to Rich and want to know what he finds. Maybe Jacob doesn't know what happened after all. He just knows Theo was there, and likely had nothing to do with it. Maybe he saw Theo drop the iPod as Theo left. Rich finds the boot print.

Jacob has Jess' body. He moved it from the crime scene. He should know better. Why did he move it. He's surprised Rich hasn't found it yet. He gives Jess a blanket. Somehow Rich is going to figure out that Jacob was there. Rich will know someone was there because the cel phone was off but now it's on and someone called 911 from it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

House Rules - Chapter 2 (pgs 38-89)

I read chapter 2 late last night and could not stop reading. This is definitely the kind of book that is hard to break away from. I'm going to kind of flip through and skim the chapter again and put down my comments as I do. Yesterday, I read the chapter earlier then commented a few hours later and could remember most of what I wanted to say. This chapter also seemed longer or maybe just more packed with stuff.

So the case at the beginning of this chapter is called Irony 101, which is evident both in the case and in something Emma says that I find very telling. "Isolation. A fixation on one particular subject. An inability to connect socially. Jacob was the one diagnosed, but I might as well have Asperger's, too." Even though Jacob is the one with the disability, his disability is a disables the family to some extent. Emma devotes her life to providing the education/skills Jacob needs to learn, Theo gets less of a parent than he should.

I thought the quip about Emma having show on the Food Network was funny, but true. Diet plays a major part in managing Autism and I like that Jodi is educating people with her novel as well. I think everyone is free to think what they would like, make their own decisions, and I would not argue with anyone who disagreed but I do not think vaccines cause autism. I do think Jodi did a good job laying out the facts the subject and the emotion on why a mother would think that vaccines caused autism in her child. I liked Jacob going to the prom. He asked 83 girls and held the door open for his date then sat in the backseat. =)

I thought Theo seemed a lot more realistic as a teenage boy in this chapter, trying the wine and changing the DVR settings, but a more responsible one, changing the DVR setting back and trying to leave the house as it was. He's probably more responsible because he has Jacob as a brother. But he's probably breaking into the houses because his house doesn't seem like a home to him.

I wondered about the seemingly random introduction of Oliver. But it seems that Oliver will clearly be Jacob's and Emma's lawyer after the murder. Recently out of law school, quirky but intelligent, he seems like someone who will try to relate to Jacob and someone who will be cheap. Their chance meeting at the pizza parlor was unexpected. Will Oliver remember that he ran into Jacob before?

Mark is a jerk. Jess should not be with him. And Jacob can see that. Maybe she shouldn't be with Jacob but I am hoping the he helps her think more of herself and see that she doesn't need someone who thinks so little of her and the thinks she values. I liked the bit about the Christmas cards to the wrong house. I'd totally open them and read them too.

Agony aunt, I'd never heard that phrase before, the origin of modern Dear Abby. I liked how Jodi found an old fashioned title for what Emma does. The incident with Jacob shoving his maths teacher and Emma trying to explain to him why it's wrong in this situation but not in others showed how I'd originally thought Jacob would think, very literally. Emma also states that she wishes Jacob could be empathetic. There is the distinction that helped me understand better that Jacob could know that he was causing certain emotions in people, even if he couldn't read them, but he could not put himself in their shoes and understand why they felt or reacted a certain way. He doesn't understand why people doesn't think and act like him, but he understands that they do, and that he needs to learn to "interpret" them and interact more correctly. Emma ignores finding Theo's stolen video game. Foreshadowing?

Theo - more typical teenage boy with the teaching Jacob how to curse and the hoping to see a naked female.

Jacob - On interpreting slang. Deductions on why Jess hasn't contacted him. Jacob goes to Jess's house. Then foreshadowing on Jacob's impulsive nature. I'm sure we'll see in the next chapter what that means. But we know from Emma's next section that it causes Jacob to meltdown very badly, and Emma, not meaning to, lets Theo's need for a somewhat normal home life down again. Emma can't do everything, who could in this situation.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

House Rules - Chapter 1 (pgs 1-37)

I finished the first chapter of House Rules last night and I'm definitely interested in the story. I think Emma's voice is the most true to life, a single mother struggling to raise her kids the best she can. Rich also seems realistic as a single dad. I can already see the love story about to happen between those two. Theo doesn't quite ring true as a smart teenager who also skate boards. I'm just not really getting teenage boy quite right from him. I also wonder about Jacob. Would an Asperger's Symdrome child be that aware that he has no social skills, can't recognize emotion, it isn't normal to throw fits in the grocery, etc.? I did see how he views his family very well. It's only the first chapter though and I hope the boys' voices develop better. I also thought it was quite interesting to learn why there are no fingerprints below freezing. The case the chapter opened with was called Sleep Tight, which is ironic because it seems like Emma is the only one sleeping that night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I got my book!

Lynne was kind enough to send me a copy of House Rules by post. And it arrived in only five days!! Way sooner than I would have gotten it from the library. Thanks Lynne!! You're awesome girl.

I plan to start reading it tonight. And since it's not due back in two week, I plan to read the book straight through since I'll have it to refer back to for the discussion questions.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bonnie's answers to some of the first DQs

1.  What does the object in this photo have to do with the story?
The color orange upsets Jacob, whether it's fruit or a piece of clothing or a warning sign. Here's one example of how Jacob feels about orange:
"This is where I go, when I go:  Somewhere completely, unutterably orange" (p. 100).
To answer Shirley's question, "Orange you glad this isn't a test?"  Yep, but I hope thinking about these questions helps everybuddy remember various parts of the story as much as coming up with the questions made me aware of all that is in the book.
2.  What is the presumptive "motive" behind the staged murder in the opening scene?
Jacob stole Theo's sneakers, but Shirley's answer is so very perceptive:  that it "showed Jacob's understanding of Theo's love of the shoes while showing that he [Jacob] does have a sense of humor."
3.  Jacob says, “Why would I want to be friends with kids who are nasty to people like me anyway?” (page 20).  What does this tell us about Jacob?
Shirley, thanks for sharing the story about your daughter's first day in kindergarten, AND for pointing out that Jacob has "a better understanding of people than he is given credit for."  I think you are right.
6.  What kind of work does Emma do?  What did she do before that?
She writes an advice column as Auntie Em:
"And off goes my mother, champion of the confused, doyenne of the dense.  Saving the world one letter at a time.  I wonder what all those devoted readers would think if they knew that the real Auntie Em had one son who was practically a sociopath and another one who was socially impractical" (pp. 24-26).

She used to be an editor of textbooks:
"I used to have friends. Back before I had children, when I was working at a textbook publishing company outside of Boston, I'd hang out with some of the other editors after hours" (p. 41).
7.  What work did Oliver do before he became a lawyer?
"I liked being a farrier. ... But after four years I got restless.  I decided to go to law school, for the same reason everyone else goes to law school:  because I had no idea what else to do" (p. 58).
I didn't realize a farrier is someone who shoes horses.  Wikipedia says, "A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of a horse's hoof and the placing of shoes to the horse's  foot."  So I've learned something new.
8.  Tell us whatever you've learned so far about the food colors the Hunt family eats during the week, the color and also any foods you can think of that fit the day's color.
"Five days of the week, in addition to having a limited diet, Jacob eats by color.  I don't really remember how this started, but it's a routine:  all Monday food is green, all Tuesday food is red, all Wednesday food is yellow, and so on" (page 43).

Green foods I can think of are peas, turnip greens, spinach, pickles, lettuce, asparagus, kiwi fruit.  Red foods might be tomatoes, apples, radishes, spaghetti sauce, red velvet cake.  Yellow foods include corn, bananas, squash, lemon meringue pie, mustard, cornbread, slices of pineapple. Watch for the colors the Hunt family eats on Thursdays and Fridays, and somebuddy please tell me what page it's on, since I didn't think to make a note of it.
9.  List any movie quotes you found in the first 100 pages or so of the book.
Shirley, there's no "special section" about movie quotes, just quotes that Jacob uses when he can't think of what to say.  That's when he uses something from a movie he remembers.  And sometimes, a movie is mentioned by one of the other characters.  Here are some movie references I noticed, along with a quote from the book and the page number:
a.  Cool Hand Luke (p. 5)
"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.
b.  Rain Man (p. 6)
When he was diagnosed, I burst into tears.  Remember, this was back in 1995; the only experience I'd had with autism was Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.
c.  Silence of the Lambs (p. 12)
I'll be honest with you -- it wasn't the fact that he took my sneakers without asking or even that he stole hair out of my brush (which is, frankly, Silence of the Lambs creepy).  It was that when I saw Jacob in the kitchen with his corn-syrup blood and his fake head injury and all the evidence pointing to me, for a half a second, I thought:  I wish.
d.  Moonstruck (p. 22)
Dr. Moon:  Can you think of a solution that might have worked better than calling 911?  Me (doing my best Cher from Moonstruck impression):  Snap out of it!
e.  Gone with the Wind (p. 23)
"Frankly my dear," I murmur, "I don't give a damn."

My mother sighs.  "Dinner at six, Rhett," she says, even though it's always at six, and even though my name is Jacob.
I've gotta add one more thing. Being a word person, I was delighted when Jacob spoke up about the word "frankly" later in the book (okay, I know I'm a bit weird).  This shows the way Jacob thinks:
"Frankly, I wonder who Frank was, and why he has an adverb all to himself" (p. 101).

First Set of Discussion Questions

1. Hmmmm....Jacob is afraid of the color orange because it means danger and it doesn't rhyme with anything. A couple of other thoughts on the picture of the oranges are "Orange you glad this isn't a test?" We're in for a juicy story. Several sections (people) make up the whole story.

2. Jacob's comment that the theft of the shoes was the motive for Theo killing him showed Jacob's understanding of Theo's love of the shoes while showing that he does have a sense of humor.

3. Jacob's realization that friends who treat persons with differences in a degrading way shows he does have a better understanding of people than he is given credit for. A friend does not mistreat you. The comment reminds me of an incident when my daughter was in kindergarten. She came home after the first day of school delighted with her new friend Sam. She came home very upset after the second day of school. When they were lined up to go to the restroom he told her she was in the wrong line as she was in the line for girls. After explaining that she is a girl, he proclaimed that they couldn't be friends as he didn't like girls. She was upset the rest of the day about his rejection. When I tucked her in bed that night, she gave a half-hearted smile and said that she thought it over and decided that that was all right after all as she didn't want to be friends with someone who let a little thing like that bother him.

4. I can't stand:
a. Favoritism that prevents others from getting a fair chance (such as getting a job or a promotion or being allowed to play in a sport).
b. Bias against people as a group (such as racism, age, weight).
c. Pain--emotional or physical--especially when it's me suffering from it.
d. Condescending behavior
e. Constant talking

5. I thought the household rules seemed appropriate. They are minimal and understandable. Although the intentions of the rules are followed without being stated, I no longer have young children at home that I would want to make rules for nor would I impose rules on my husband.

6. Emma is a freelance editor including doing an advice column. I can't remember what she did before that or if the freelancing is in addition to another job.

7. Another question I can't answer. I don't remember reading about Oliver in the first chapter.

8. I haven't made it this far in the book yet.

9. Knowing that I'm not a movie buff and that there is to be a special section on movie quotes, I will opt out of this question as well.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

House Rules ~ first set of discussion questions

Post your answers to these questions (as actual posts if you are a Book Buddy, rather than a comment), and tell us your thoughts about the earliest parts of the book:

1.  What does the object in this photo have to do with the story?

2.  What is the presumptive "motive" behind the staged murder in the opening scene?

3.  Jacob says, “Why would I want to be friends with kids who are nasty to people like me anyway?” (page 20).  What does this tell us about Jacob?

4.  Jacob lists twelve things he can't stand (page 20).  Do you see his logic?  We all have things we could put into such a list.  What would yours be?

5.  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?  "If a bully taunts him and I tell him it’s all right to reciprocate, why shouldn’t he do the same with a teacher who humiliates him in public?" (see page 75).

(1)  Clean up your own messes.
(2)  Tell the truth.
(3)  Brush your teeth twice a day.
(4)  Don't be late for school.
(5)  Take care of your brother; he's the only one you've got.

6.  What kind of work does Emma do?  What did she do before that?

7.  What work did Oliver do before he became a lawyer?

8.  "Five days of the week, in addition to having a limited diet, Jacob eats by color.  I don't really remember how this started, but it's a routine:  all Monday food is ______, all Tuesday food is ______, all Wednesday food is ______, and so on" (page 43).  The colors for Thursday and Friday come later in the book.  You'll also discover later (page 288) that there's another food color they always eat on the first day of the month.  Tell us whatever you've learned so far about the food colors the Hunt family eats during the week, the color and also any foods you can think of that fit the day's color.

9.  List any movie quotes you found in the first 100 pages or so of the book.