Rules - Cynthia Lord

As I listened to this audio book, many themes came across my mind. How do I describe words? Listening to this novel, I was driving and was struck by the world around me and I thought how would I describe the world around me, if I had to? There are so many things to describe. How would I describe “flew” (as the bird flew in the sky beside me)? How about “driving”? Driving, this word, just thinking about describing it makes me dizzy as so many other words come into play that you would have to describe or hope the individual knows (road, vehicle, steering wheel, speed limit, gas, brake, etc.) Then, who makes up these definitions for the words that we all know? What a big responsibility if you think about it (deep thought here). I realize we add words continuously as we mature but just think if we wrote down all the words we know and their definitions, what a massive book that would be. Then I thought about rules, the rules of life, just the basic rules of life. These countless rules that govern most everyone, what an immense book that would be and then to add in the rules for your own specific life – yes, this book spoke volumes to me. This is a YA book but it really made me think and had me talking to others about rules and words, how universal and specific they are.

In Rules, 12 year-old Catherine has a brother who has autism. She feels it’s her job to make a list of rules for him to follow so he’ll be more socially accepted in society. Catherine doesn’t like it when her brother is stared at by others when they are out. Catherine just wants him to fit in and her rules cover a broad range of subjects. Catherine accompanies her brother to his doctor’s appointment were she befriends another boy Jason. Catherine has mixed feelings about Jason, as she looks forward to David’s doctor appointments where she will catch up with Jason but she doesn’t want to share the details of their relationship with her best friend Kristie, when she finds his picture in Catherine’s sketch pad. It’s his disability that has Catherine hiding Jason from the rest of her world. Can Catherine let go of what others think and just enjoy how things are? It’s a hard concept for kids who rely so much on their peers for acceptance but it’s a part of growing up too. The scene in the parking lot, that was a moment of freedom for so many individuals who participated and for those who witnessed the event. 4 stars