One of the problems with loving books is trying to keep up with reading everything that comes through the door! This is made worse by living in a tiny house with limited bookshelves requiring me to double the rows of books. I’ve had Rules by Cynthia Lord since it came out, but only recently rediscovered it in the back book row when I was doing a little book weeding.
Once I started Rules, I couldn’t put it down. It’s an absolutely wonderful book, with insights into the lives of families coping with the challenges of autism that we can all learn from. The story is narrated by Catherine whose younger brother David is autistic. Catherine is a loving, but frustrated sister who is frequently responsible for looking after her brother while her mom works from her home office. The novel’s title comes from the rules Catherine makes for herself and those she makes for her brother. Rules like “When things get confusing, make a joke,” help her to cope with making new friends including Jason, the quadriplegic boy she meets at her brother’s physiotherapist’s office. More basic rules like “Keep your pants on! Unless Mom, Dad or the doctor tells you to take them off,” help her brother survive in the sometimes frightening and incomprehensible world around him. But, neither Catherine nor her brother can rely entirely on rules. When rules don’t work, Catherine has art to fall back on. When rules don’t work for David, he takes comfort in the words of Arnold Lobel. But sometimes something more is needed; sometimes, tolerance and love and humor are what gets you through the day. This is a book about all of those things…rules, art, language, love and tolerance and humor. This is a book you’ll want to read,