I've always loved to read. I'll be honest and tell you that my favorite author of all time is Steven King - surprising I know considering what a big scaredy cat I am - but it's true. His descriptive writing just completely sucks me in every time and I find myself sitting at 2:00 a.m. unable to put the book down even though I'm sitting with all the lights on, completely terrified (maybe that's why I haven't read any of his books lately...I need my sleep too much). But I also love the typical "chick books." Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is definitely a guilty pleasure. This series has adventure, laugh-out-loud humor and a ton of totally hot romance...a nice escape for any 35-year-old mother of two.
Unfortunately, even though I love to read, I don't get to indulge nearly as often as I would like because of my insanely hectic lifestyle. So when I do decide to read these days I have to make sure it is worth my time. I received House Rules by Jodi Picoult as a Mother's Day gift and so far I have not been disappointed. Without giving too much away, the story is about an 18-year-old boy with Asperger's - a high-functioning form of Autism. He is a senior in high school and still lives with his mother and younger brother...oh, and by the way, he's being charged with murder. First of all, let me say that I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan. I have read many of her books and love her writing style. This book is no exception, but it hits a little too close to home. I am only half way through the book and have already had to put it down many times because of the emotions it has evoked in me: sadness, frustration, fear...
As the mother of two children with autism I can't help but internalize this story. Picoult has done her research, because this boy is not just a combination of stereotypical autistic traits, but I can picture him in my mind and see him as a real person. Sometimes he reminds me of my son - sometimes my daughter - sometimes of a friend's child I know with Aspergers. But most of all, she has really hit on the fears that we mothers of children with autism feel. What does the future hold for our children? Will society ever accept them? Will they ever have friends or feel a part of our world? Are they really happy? Will they ever be independent or will they need us, desperately, for the rest of their lives? These are questions that I have asked myself countless times. What does our future look like as a family? Will it ever - ever - resemble anything normal?
I'm not done yet so I don't know how the book will turn out, but I do know that I can already say I would recommend it to everyone. Not because of the actual story - maybe I'll hate the ending - instead because it can help let people into my world, a world that completely and totally revolves around autism. It may not be a world I would have chosen to live in - but it is a world, unlike the mother in this book, that I fight daily to live in and not just survive. Like a lot of mother's of children with autism, she has no joy in her life and is just barely making it through the days. Autism has taken a lot from me, but I refuse to let it steal my happiness no matter how hard I have to work to create it.