2 words that describe the book―Autism Awareness
3 setting where the book took place or characters I met
- Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome who is obsessed with forensic analysis and crime scenes. Although he attends high school and wants to fit in with the other kids, Asperger’s keeps him from being able to form social bonds. To help him, he works with a social skills tutor, and his mother is a relentless advocate for mainstreaming Jacob. Yet when his routines are disrupted or things don’t go how Jacob expects, he can easily fall apart and experience a meltdown.
- Emma Hunt is a single mother (her husband left when Jacob’s autism got to be too much) who struggles everyday to keep things together. Jacob requires so much of her attention and energy that she barely has time for her youngest son Theo or a life of her own. When Jacob is accused of murder, Emma struggles to rectify the physical evidence with what she knows to be true about her son. Although it has always been difficult to explain Jacob’s behavior to others, Emma finds it even more difficult to explain his behaviors in a courtroom setting.
- Theo Hunt is the youngest member of the Hunt family. As the “normal” kid, he ends up getting the leftover scraps of attention from his beleaguered mom. Although he loves his brother, he resents how Jacob’s behavior can draw negative attention from other kids—and hamper Theo’s own social standing. Feeling left out and forgotten in his own family, Theo begins to seek attention elsewhere—and not necessarily in a positive way.
4 things I liked or disliked about the book
- Picoult does a wonderful job of presenting the realities of living with a child with Asperger’s syndrome. It seems obvious that she did a lot of research, and I understand that she got the details just right. (I base this assertion on the fact that a fellow blogger who has a son with Asperger’s said the book was spot-on.) Writing from multiple points of view, Picoult puts you inside the minds of each member of the Hunt family—providing several looks at how Jacob’s autism is experienced by each family member.
- It seems that Picoult has developed a formula that she is unwilling or unable to abandon. Yet again, the book’s plot hinges on a courtroom case (Jacob being accused of murder) … just like My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, Perfect Match, The Pact and a few others. It seems that Picoult picks a “hot issue” (be it mercy killing, autism, sexual abuse by priests, school shootings) and then develops a book around it … yet the books always feature a legal aspect that inevitably end with a “twist” ending. Although another Picoult hallmark is writing from multiple points-of-view (which she does very well), this time around it felt like the legal story was a bit overwrought and threadbare. I think Picoult can write, and I wish she would just write a novel that didn’t have a big courtroom scene with a surprise at the end.
- Like most Picoult books, the book is a fast read (despite the fact that this particular one was a bit of a chunkster with 532 pages). The multiple points of view are easy to follow as each character is given their own typeface so you know just whose head you are in. I do appreciate that aspect of her books; it keeps them from being confusing.
- If you want to know more about the realities and challenges of living with Aspergers, I think this book would be a good read. Picoult manages to weave in all kinds of information on autism and treatment options. I found it a good way to gain a glimpse into this world. I’ve known two families who had children with Asperger’s syndrome, and I appreciate the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what they live with everyday.
5 stars or less for my rating:
I’m giving the book 3.5 stars. Although well-researched and presenting a detailed and gripping insight into the realities of life with Asperger’s syndrome, I felt the book was hampered by the legal plot. Because Picoult tends to follow a fairly strict formula in her books, I already knew what to expect at the end. If you’re reading this from a mystery/thriller aspect, I don’t know if you would be satisfied. That said, if you’re a Picoult fan already, you’ll get exactly what you expect from her in this book.
The Whys and Wheres: I borrowed this book from the library. I’ve read many of Picoult’s books in the past—although I’m beginning to tire of her formula. I ended up deciding to read this one because I wanted to learn more about Asperger’s syndrome.
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