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Book Review–Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules by Cynthia Lord

This review is based on the recorded book version of this novel. 

Title:  Rules

Author:  Cynthia Lord; Performed by Jessica Almasy

Length:  4 hours

Synopsis:  This is the story of Catherine, a twelve-year-old girl who loves art and longs for a friend.  Catherine is the sister and often-babysitter for her autistic brother, David, and she often has a hard time fitting in with her classmates because of David’s behaviors.  She works hard to help David be more “normal,” specifically by giving him rules to live by that most people take for granted.  Her best friend is away for the summer visiting her father, so Catherine is excited when she learns that the family moving in next door includes a girl her age.  She spends most of her summer days helping her mother with David, visiting the clinic where David receives occupational therapy, and hoping that Christy, her new neighbor, will not be scared off by David’s differences.  At the clinic, Catherine befriends a wheelchair-bound boy named Jason who “talks” through a communication book he keeps with him at all times.  The story somewhat predictably comes to a climax when Catherine must choose whether or not to invite Jason to a community dance when challenged to do so by Christy, who doesn’t know about David’s disability.  

My Thoughts:  I have been eager to get my hands on this book since I first read about it.  However, I have been unable to get it at the library.  A few weeks ago, I was at the library and just happened to look on the recorded books shelf and it caught my eye.  I used to listen to books on tape (or CD) frequently, but since having children, I have not done so as often.  I still prefer to read a book instead of listen to it; I enjoy the interaction with the page, and I like being able to go back and re-read parts that I miss or really enjoy.    This book was a little bit difficult to follow because of way the Jason communicates (by pointing to words in his communication book); I think I would have followed his and Catherine’s conversations better if I had read them.  Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Jessica Almasy’s performance of this book.

As for the story itself, Cynthia Lord does a wonderful job of characterization.  David reminds me of some of the autistic children who were students at a school where I worked.  Catherine is the perfect blend of the twelve-year-old girl who just wants a “normal” life but loves and wants to protect her brother.  Lord deftly weaves Catherine’s rules for David into the fabric of the story so that the rules themselves become thematic springboards for Catherine’s problems.  Although I did find the story a little bit predictable, I appreciate the message that Cynthia Lord conveys and the revelation that “not everything that is valuable has to be useful” that this book delivers.    In my opinion, this book is worthy of its Newbery Honor distinction.

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18 Responses

  1. […] Rules by Cynthia Lord (finished February 2008) […]

  2. I also just recently read this book as I’m trying to make way through the Newbery’s. I really enjoyed this book and was able to understand the difficulties of what it’s like for a young child to deal with an autistic family member. I also just read, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon which takes us into the minds of a autistic child. It’s worth reading if you haven’t read it yet.

    I enjoyed your review. Thanks!

  3. […] the Newbery Medal winner from 2007, Penny from Heaven, but if it beat out Hattie Big Sky and Rules, it must be one more […]

  4. Rules is a very good and interesting novel that is good for all ages. It is also a fascinating book about autism.

  5. i loved this book i thought it was alitlle said though

  6. Title of Book: Rules
    Author: Cynthia Lord
    Genre: Realistic Fiction

    I rate the book four stars out of five, because they really don’t detail the characters enough so you don’t really know what the characters in the book look like so they should add more details or at least a picture.

    The book is about a twelve year old girl, Catherine, who has an eight year old brother, David, who has autism. Catherine has to make many rules for David, and it is hard for her to have a normal life. When she goes to therapy with David she meets a boy in a wheelchair, Jason, who can’t speak. They become very good friends. Also during summer her best friend has to go with her dad on vacation, so Catherine is stuck with no friends. That is until a girl ,Kristi, moves in next door to her. Catherine and Kristi become friends. But, then Kristi starts dating a boy named Ryan, which Catherine hates so much because he hurts David’s feelings.
    To find out what happens to Catherine during her summer vacation read the book Rules by Cynthia Lord.

  7. I love this book I think its going to help people understand and be more understandable with the differences that other people have.

  8. This was a great book I think it’s a good book for teens

  9. I like this book. Kids and teens must learn something from this book.

  10. I loved this book! I feel it was written for and about me! I am in the same exact situation as Catherine. I have a younger brother with autism and it is hard to understand the challenges and he can be very embarrassing in public and you never know how people you meet are going to react to him. It’s the most touching book I have ever read.

  11. I liked the book the first time. Then I read it one moe time and I did not wanted to read it but I had to.

  12. This is the best book I have read.
    I actually just finished a project about my favorite book and I chose Rules. This is a great book and is a bit sad about her brother. But I know it could be very difficault with a brother with autisim.

  13. this was a great book it showed how life really is. People with disabilities do get looked at as someone different and not foe who they really are.

  14. Wow,this was the best book Ive read in a while…. I have a neighbor that has autism i used to be very confused on why she acted the way she did but her parents talked with me to a level I would understand……I could relate to this book and request you read it!!!! 🙂

  15. I just was reading this book for a book report. And i loved it.!

  16. I love this book so much! I did a book review on it and got a 100. I hope everyone reads this book.

  17. the book was totally awesome……….perfect in fact. I read it for a book report

  18. This book is amazing!!!!!!!!!!! I read it for a book report and i got an A+, and my teacher said it was probably the best report she’d ever gotten.

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