House Rules, by Jodi Picoult, Allen & Unwin, $32.99.
Fans of Jodi Picoult’s work know what to expect. House Rules delivers it all: the shifting perspectives of several narrators, a child with a disability or illness, a court case, and cleverly explored ethical issues.
Single mum and agony aunt Emma Hunt has two sons, Jacob and Theo. Jacob suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, Theo suffers from living with Jacob and the attention he demands from their mother. When the family is caught up in the death of a young woman, Jacob’s inability to make eye contact or show empathy helps make him a suspect, but is it Theo who is hiding something? Picoult’s flashes of humour and ability to draw sympathetic characters, carry the reader through one barely believable coincidence, and many frustrating moments when you feel like giving every member of the family a good shaking.