Have you ever had a friend recommend a book that you waited and waited to read, only to discover that it really was a wonderful book? And you wondered why on earth had it taken you so long to read it? That was my experience with Rules by Cynthia Lord.
Rules was a NC Battle of the Books book last year, which is a HUGE recommendation for a book. The books chosen for Battle of the Books are usually wonderful books, and everyone that I have read has been a treasure. The students who read the book raved about it as well. Everyone I spoke with said it was a wonderful book. So why did I let it collect dust for more than half a year? I have no idea. But once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.
The main character is Catherine. She is 12 and has a little brother with autism. He can’t learn basic lessons simply by watching other people like the rest of us. He has to be directly taught things like, “Keep your pants on in public.” That is the basic premise to the book, all of the rules that David has to be taught every day. But through the book, other themes arise. Can you be friends with someone who is different from everyone else? Catherine has to wade through the difficulties of friends through this story, and learns that friends come in all shapes and sizes.
I recommend this book to everyone. It helped me understand autism better, as well as the day to day challenges we all face in understanding those around us. What we think we understand about people may not be true at all. It is up to all of us to look beyond the surface to really understand those around us.