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Literature / Rules

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Rules is a 2006 young adult novel by Cynthia Lord.

Catherine, an artistic twelve-year-old girl, has spent much of her life looking after her autistic eight-year-old brother, David, and teaching him to memorize rules for life. When Kristi, a girl her age, moves in next door, Catherine is worried that David's weird behavior will put her off. But not only does she befriend Kristi, she also befriends Jason Morehouse, a slightly older boy who goes to the same occupational therapy center as David.

Rules contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Jason is mute, uses a wheelchair, and communicates via picture cards, but Catherine never learns exactly what his disability is and neither does the reader.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Catherine once got in trouble with the bus driver for shoving David's bully, Ryan Deschaine.
  • Character Tics: David flicks his fingers like he's playing a piano. He also shakes his arms when he's excited and flaps his hands when he's upset.
  • Door Slam of Rage: Catherine slams the door to her mother's office out of frustration with being made to babysit David when she'd rather hang out with Kristi.
  • Hates Being Nicknamed: Catherine keeps telling her dad not to call her "Cath," which reminds her of a baby cow.
  • High-School Dance: Catherine attends a dance with Jason, where she overcomes her embarrassment over dancing in public.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: David thinks Ryan is his friend. He doesn't understand that he's laughing at and not with him.
  • Sensory Overload: David hears everything much louder than most people do. He covers his ears at any sudden noise.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: David finds borrowing other people's words easier than providing his own. He especially likes Frog and Toad, and can hold entire conversations in Frog and Toad quotes.
  • Teen Idol: Kristi has a crush on an idol named Jake, who appears in Teen People magazine.