Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Impact of The Pact

My July read for the TBR Challenge was The Pact, by Jodi Picoult. I finished it in mid-July and am only now getting to the review. But that's nothing compared to how long I've had it and been meaning to read it.

This was another book that was part of a Christmas present from my sister probably 3 years ago. As I've mentioned before, my sister is a great gift giver, but the subject matter of this book (which is explained on the back of the book and in the early pages of the book, so I don't think it's a spoiler, but here it is: a teenagers suicide pact) made me hesitate to read it, even though the subtitle of the book is "A Love Story." It sounded dark and depressing. While I figured it would be a good book, I knew I had to wait until the right mood and the right season to read it.

Boy am I glad I read it. It was fantastic! It wasn't even so depressing like I thought it would be. It moved to fast to let you get too overwhelmed by the sadness, and it kept me guessing as to what had happened and what was going to happen. I was completely sucked in to both stories. I say both because the book was structured in a Then and Now fashion, with the start of the book containing the action that the Then leads up to and results in the Now. Does that sound confusing? It wasn't. It was beautifully put together.

In addition to the interesting plot and wonderfully constructed structure of the book, the characters were really fleshed out. While I didn't personally relate to any of the character and in fact would not likely not hang out with them in real life, they were very realistic and just about everything they did was true to their characters. I once read an author's response about readers who say that something a character does in a book is unrealistic, that they (the reader) would never do something like that. She said that it does matter whether or not the reader would do the thing they are complaining about, but would the character in the book do it? Is it true to the character, not the reader? In this book, there were things I thought were silly or even outrageous actions, things that I never would have done. But those actions usually did fit the characters. Picoult makes these characters so realistic that you just know that the actions are true to the characters.

I know I had little issues with the book. Little things not being truly discovered as I had hoped they would be. But it's not my book, not my story to decide how it should play out. And none of the issues were so great that they even left much of an impression on me. In fact, I'm searching for some negatives to balance out the raves I feel for this book. And not coming up with anything.

I really thought this book was fantastic. This is the first book I've read by Picoult, and I am excited to read more. My understanding is that this book is typical of her other books, both in the topics it deals with and in the settings. If that is true, my bet is that her other books will also have this kind of impact on the readers. I'm left thinking about this book for weeks after I finished it, both things that happened in it and the way it was written. Reading this as a parent, I'm constantly thinking about this book in terms of what I can do to protect my child and look for warning signs that are probably easily hidden from people who don't want to see them. Hopefully, I will see them because I don't just want to believe that everything is sunshine and roses if things are truly wrong. I don't want anything bad to ever happen to my child(ren), so I will hopefully also be looking for those things and be able to protect them from most of the ills in the world. But what happens when there is something I didn't see, something I was unable to protect them from?

I imagine I will continue thinking about this book for a very long time.

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