Lord, Cynthia. Rules. New York: Scholastic, 2008. 200 pp. ISBN: 978-0-439-44383-8
Twelve-year-old Catherine wants to live a normal life, but her eight-year-old brother has autism. This book describes her struggle living with a brother with autism and how family life revolves around his disability. She creates rules for him to keep him from embarrassing himself and others. Some of these rules are: No toys in the aquarium and you can hug your mother in public but not the clerk. Catherine even makes rules for herself to help her get through life, such as "Sometimes people don't answer because they didn't hear you. Other times it's because they don't want to hear you." Things get tricky when a new girl moves next door and she meets a paraplegic boy.
This is the author's first novel. Cynthia is a former teacher and bookseller. She has two children, a daughter and a son, and the son has autism. She was motivated to write the book when her daughter asked her, "Mom, how come I never see families like mine in books and on TV?" Rules was a Newbery Honor book in 2007.
Lord has written a wonderful story that is true to life. I have special needs children and I read the book to my children and they loved it. My older daughter said that it spoke truthfully for our own life. The book has both funny and sad parts. I do not like books that sacrifices the story for the message. This is not one of them. The author knows what she she is describing. This book will encourage families who have or know special needs children. One of the important points of the book is that it describes the feelings and struggles of the non-special needs child that receives little attention and lots of responsibility because of the needs of the family.