Catherine, the protagonist of Rules, is a normal twelve-year-old girl managing the global preteen issues of friendships, family members relationships, and identity. However, Catherine’s case is complex by the fact that she eight-year-old brother, David, is autistic. Because Catherine’s parents are both overburdened v work, Catherine must care for her brothers a an excellent deal that the time. As a result, she has become an ext responsible, careful and also considerate, yet also much more nervous, preoccupied and also inhibited 보다 the average preteen.

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For lot of the novel, Catherine struggles between her desire to be “normal,” to connect with others she own age without the load of her “abnormal” brother, and her desire to treatment for and also protect David.Because Catherine has actually spent her entire life through an autistic person, she has actually learned to see beyond actions others think of as strange or off-putting, to appreciate her brother together a unique, periodically frustrating, yet ultimately lovable and also endearing person. This ability comes in handy once Catherine strikes increase a friendship with Jason, a boy that is both physical handicapped and also unable to verbalize normally. Because the her endure with David, Catherine is able come see beyond Jason’s “different” exterior and connect v him top top a depth level.

However, for Catherine, the greatest an obstacle is integrating her relationships v David and also Jason and her friendships with what she considers “regular” people. At the opening of the novel, Catherine tries as difficult as she have the right to to save these two sides of she life separate, and also as a result, she feeling her identity “ripping in half.” However, by the finish of the novel, she has begun to carry the two sides of herself together, attending the dance through Jason and introducing him to her more “normal” classmates Kristi and also Ryan.

David is a kind eight-year-old young who has trouble adjusting come the world approximately him because of his autism. David is very sensitive come noise, and also loud noises make him shout in pain and also frustration; he requirements things come go exactly as planned, and also gets upset if anything pressures him to deviate indigenous his typical routine. For example, even though David’s dad is frequently late showing up home, every job David counts down the secs until his expected arrival, and he becomes much more and much more upset the later his father is. David has a love for rules, and for listening to and also repeating phrases indigenous his favorite storybooks; the cannot address maybes and also unknowns. Because David to be kicked out of his constant school, his key interactions are with his therapist and also his family—he does no seem come have any kind of friends his very own age. As a result, David share a specifically close bond with his sister, and despite the trouble he sometimes causes, his love for she is constantly clear.


Jason Morehouse is a teenage boy Catherine meets in ~ the clinic where her brothers attends therapy. Jason is in a wheelchair and also unable to speak, instead connecting by pointing come word cards, so he meets through a speech therapist in ~ the clinic. At the start of the novel, Jason seems withdrawn, frustrated and uninterested in the world; however, together his relationship with Catherine progresses, he becomes an ext and more engaged and alive. With both she companionship and also the native cards she renders for him, Catherine offers Jason his very first chance to connect and confide with someone his very own age—as Catherine realizes, the does not even have words “friend” in ~ his disposal until she provides a “friend” card for him. As Jason’s ability to express himself grows, for this reason does his determination to perform things for himself: that insists top top a motorized wheelchair that can control on his own. For his birthday, Catherine offers Jason a guitar that, together with the electric keyboard he already owns, enables him to express himself in his own unique way. Finally, Jason defies societal expectation by accompanying Catherine to a run and, despite his limitations, dancing through her.

Catherine’s parents space overburdened yet well-meaning—they plainly love their children but are for this reason busy through work and also dealing v David’s autism the they cannot provide either son the emotional attention they need. Catherine’s father, that works long hours out of the house so his wife deserve to stay home with David, is the more physically lacking of the two.Her mother, however, is equally missing in her own way—trying to job-related from residence and resolve all the problems caused by David’s autism, she is unable to devote much emotional power to her children. However, in ~ the necessary moments, Catherine’s parents carry out pull through for their children: her mother tells Catherine the what other world think does not matter, thus giving Catherine the catalyst to invite Jason to the dance. Her father responds to Catherine’s need that “we matter” by leaving work-related to drive Catherine to the dance and also spending time with both children.

Catherine describes her new neighbor Kristi as one of the “cool” kids. Catherine is glad for Kristi’s agency but a little bit disappointed that Catherine is an ext the kind to talk about boys and plan a neighborhood dance, much less the form to go swimming in a creek and also dig up dirt from the bottom. Kristi’s complicity as soon as her boyfriend, Ryan, provides fun that David additionally disappoints Catherine. However, at the end of the novel, Catherine seems accepting and also open-minded around Catherine’s friendship v Jason, also though he is in a wheelchair.

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