What a gem this book was! I had heard a lot about it when I first started blogging, but just got to it this past week. I really enjoyed it and was touched by the beautiful story Cynthia Lord told.
Rules follows 12 year old Catherine as she goes through a life changing summer. Catherine often plays babysitter to her autistic brother, David and is quite resentful of that. She feels she is the only one that watches him well enough to prevent embarrassing disasters in public or when friends are over and has created a series of rules for David to follow so he won't "get confused." One of the most prominent rules is "no toys in the fish tank" followed by "only take your pants off if Mom or the doctor tell you to." Catherine wants David to be normal so badly that her life revolves around him and the rules.
When Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic that cannot speak, she begins realizing that maybe "normal" is harder to define than she thought. Jason surely seems normal, even if he can't talk or walk. Does that mean David, with his autism, may also be normal? Catherine spends a lot of time growing up over the course of the book, with the help of Jason and her little brother.
Catherine was such a real little girl, with feelings that I can imagine any sibling of an autistic child would feel. It is obvious she loves her brother very much and would do anything to make life easier for him, while making life easier for herself as well. The reader also gets a touch of innocent romance when Catherine starts having a little crush on Jason, telling herself that the thought alone is crazy. That part of the plot does not develop into anything major and rightfully so. I can definitely believe that this book deserved the Newbery Honor award and am so glad I picked it up finally.