Jacob Hunt is 18 and has Asperger's syndrome. He lives with his mother, Emma and 15 year old brother, Theo. His father left the family when Jacob was 3 and has since remarried and has two young daughters. Jodi Picoult's book provides an insight into lives of members of a family where one of the members has special needs, is unable to communicate efficiently, takes verbal communication literally, is easily upset when routines are changed yet wants to be accepted as a normal human being. Jacob is highly intelligent and has a photographic memory. He is fascinated by forensic science and enjoys recreating crime scenes and watching CrimeBusters at 4.30 each week day afternoon. Jacob also believes that people should tell the truth and his life is conditioned by a series of 'house rules'.
When Jessie Ogilvy, Jacob's tutor, goes missing and her body is later found wrapped in Jacob's handmade quilt, Jacob is arrested. A major theme of the book examines how the legal system copes, or fails to cope, with providing a fair trial for someone whose everyday actions would normally indicate that he is guilty and who is unable to fully comprehend questions put to him.
The story told by Emma, Jacob, Theo, Rich (the detective) and Oliver (the lawyer defending Jacob) often provides different perspectives of an event. This book would provide many discussion possibilities for members of book clubs.