Cynthia Lord’s Rules explores the complexity of family dynamics, especially when a family includes a member with a disability. Catherine’s twelfth summer does not look promising, as her best friend Melissa away, and now Catherine has to look after her sweet little brother David, a child with autism. There are so many rules for social behavior for David to master, and Catherine finds it difficult to teach him. Through accompanying David to his therapy sessions, Catherine meets a handicapped boy, named Jason, who cannot speak. Employing her artistic skills, Catherine begins to make word cards for Jason, helping to expand the young teenager’s world, and a strong bond develops between the two of them. Catherine also meets Kristi, a “cool” new neighbor, and is delighted when Kristi befriends her. She tries to keep her new friends apart, but when her worlds collide at the community center dance, Catherine discovers how deep her friendships truly run, and the makings of a true friend. Lord’s novel is a sensitive exploration of growing up, dealing with disabilities, and testing relationships.