April 2006 by Scholastic Press
A heartfelt and witty debut 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?
Rules is a poignant (Who decided that word should have a g? It should be poinient) read that draws you in. I LOVE the relationship between Catherine and David. It is touching and sweet, and it is the most accurate representation of that feeling of they're messing things up for me and everyone's staring at me and I hate this but I can't be mad at you because it's not your fault and I know you're trying, but still... The representation of Catherine's relationship with her parents is great too.
Lord has an autistic child, so I'm going to assume the representation of autism is accurate to at least her own experience. And Rules won the Schneider Family Book Award, which is kind of the Newbery for books describing the experience of a child or adolescent with disabilities. It also won a Newbery Honor.
The book is a little bit dated with details like the VCR tapes that Catherine has to keep winding when the tape pulls out of the cassette. I remember that, but readers more than five years younger than me probably won't.
Wanting to be accepted is a universal desire, not just limited to those with a disability or those who have a family member with a disability. Rules captures that longing excellently It is short. It is sweet. It is a tearjerker. I read it in a single day. It is a great read.