Thursday, 3 February 2011

When a disability is under legal scrutiny

THIS IS THE BEST EVER STORY from Jodi Picoult (gauging it from my previous reading of My Sister's Keeper, Perfect Match and Second Glance). At first, I was a little bit disappointed of the pacing of the story. Picoult has her own way of presenting the characters which quite effective to fully understand each of the personality involved in the story. If you have already read some of her books, you understand what Im saying here. Normally I want variations of presenting the plot even with the same authors, and this is the reason why I tried to avoid much of Picoult's stories.

House Rules is an engaging novel that allows readers to understand the emotional and psychological conditions that confront the characters which is very effective to get the interest of finishing the book (I think so...). For the first 100 pages, I was tempted to temporary abandoned reading it but then reaching the middle part of the book, my enthusiasm is building-up considering that I initially did some preliminary conclusions of what happened to Jess' disappearance/death; consequently I found out that, well almost 100 percent I got it right! At that point of my initial assessment of the events, I jumped to the conclusion that Picoult is not clever enough to sustain the suspense element of the story that I was able to predict the outcome of the investigation.

On the other hand, Picoult is perfectly intelligent enough to motivate her readers to bring their own initial investigations and validated at the end of the story. The focal point of the story is whether a person suffering from Asperger's syndrome can be convicted of a crime or can be acquitted because the suspect is not capable to validate that his action is right or wrong? As the story progresses, I cant resist to do my own judgment from the evidence presented, and Picoult perfectly crafted the story in such a way that readers, like myself who doesnt have any background in forensic or criminal investigations will embark and hold on to find the truth! Unfortunately, Picoult did NOT explicitly described the outcome or the verdict but somehow readers will have their own interpretations...maybe acquittal or conviction.

The criminal process somehow validates my on-going personal discovery about American justice system. Currently, I do regular readings on this subject matter as part of a personal assistance to my cousin's university degree in Criminal Justice and Picoult did well to convince me about the judicial proceedings without going to the real trials. Not only the technical aspect of coming-up with the conviction, but most importantly, Picoult provided an excellent argument to look at, not only the justice system but also the physical, financial, emotional and pyschological impacts to the parties involved. Specifically, the author brings a new dimension of bringing these vulnerable offenders or those with disabilities into trial that could bring "reforms" or challenges to the current criminal system. With my final note, Picoult also wanted to confront us and stir our values and principles especially for those families or individuals who are facing the same dilemma of bringing their loved ones with disabilities that cause a long term effect to the carers which is the hardest thing to accept!

BY THE WAY, the other thing that I like finishing Picoult's novels is that she encouraged readers to interact with her, through her "Reading Guide" presented at the end of the book. Being a part-time academician, this kind of book presentation will encourage educators to bring her stories in the classrooms or any debate for that matter.

"Sometimes the hardest thing to hear is the truth" - Emma

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