Happy Winter! At least, it’s sure starting to feel like winter around here. We’ve even had snow a few times! Hope you are warm and cozy amidst the chill.
Today I am here to share my review of Rules by Cynthia Lord. I read this book a few months ago after hearing about it from a good friend. This was a sweet, quick read about a pair of siblings, one with autism. I have a dear, dear friend with a child with autism so I was really excited to experience this book.
Book Summary: “This Newbery Honor Book is a heartfelt and witty story about feeling different and finding acceptance–beyond the rules.
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules-from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “keep your pants on in public”-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?”
I love this story and how Catherine navigates her complex yet relatable life. Catherine feels so real to me. She wants a normal life and is embarrassed that her brother David is not like other brothers. She feels worried that he will say embarrassing things or do something to embarrass her. Her concerns and problems felt relatable. Whether or not readers have a sibling with a disability, it’s important to think about how our actions and words can affect others. Catherine makes some mistakes in this book, she loses her temper, she doesn’t share how she really feels. But then she tries to make things right, apologizes, and moves forward. All of these are relatable feelings, and I really enjoyed her journey through the book.
The relationships in this book are poignant. I really enjoyed Catherine’s friendship with Jason. I have read Out of My Mind with a protagonist who uses a communication book and then computer because of her physical limitations. It was so powerful and I think this friendship is also powerful. I loved how they bond over words and how well he communicates with her even in his body language. He is so aware of others and how they feel about him. Made me think more about how I treat people or how I look at people that are different from me. David is a delightful character. I enjoyed his Frog and Toad quoting and the different ways he understands or doesn’t understand the rules Cath gives him. He is such a fun character and I enjoyed seeing how he sees the world and tries to interact with it. I also really felt for Cath and David’s parents in this book. They had so much to do helping David and supporting Cath. They weren’t perfect. They were stressed and spread thin. But they are doing the best they can and I really respected that.
This book shares an important and powerful message about inclusion and kindness. I appreciate that this book exists. That these characters exist. It is so important for kids and adults to read about characters with autism and how we can treat them with respect and empathy. I appreciated the flaws in the characters in this story but also the things they teach us, even when we don’t expect to learn anything. The ending is satisfying. I like that it’s not perfect, but I was glad Catherine makes certain decisions in the end.
A great book! I would love to read this with my kids one day and have a discussion about how we interact and look at people who are different, specifically with disabilities. An important book!
What are some of your favorite books about people with disabilities?