For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other, sharing everything from Chinese food to chicken pox to carpool duty– they’ve grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other’s lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more. They’ve been soul mates since they were born.
So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There’s a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father’s cabinet– a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described. (Goodreads)
There is one thing that I have become certain about Jodi Picoult; that she is excel at writing very complex yet gripping stories gouging out the ugly side of human nature, if necessary.
This book has got many surprises. Although the degrees of those surprises certainly vary from being a small, ‘oh, really?’ type of thing to a huge one that inevitably changes the course of the plot, I was kept guessing what is ‘the truth’ the entire time I was reading it. As the very ‘truth’ was not narrated nor portrayed due to the brilliant characterization of one of the main characters, Jordan McAfee, the defence attorney, I didn’t know where the truth lies, to be more specific, how Emily died on the night of November 7th until the very end.
I actually wondered why this book was billed as ‘a love story’ to begin with. Granted, the two key characters, Chris Harte and Emily Gold were definitely in love with each other. They were indispensable to each other, they could never imagine being with anyone else but each other. That said though, the overall tone of the story which involves a lot of investigative twists and legal procedures, the blurb, ‘a love story’ didn’t strike me as appropriate. Until the end, the last 26 pages to be more specific.
From then onwards, ‘the truth’ is finally revealed and everything I had read up to the point started falling into place and making sense. The middle part – where Emily’s anguish and emotional conflicts was narrated – didn’t in fact grip me so much, but what was narrated in that segment came back to me in the court scene and started sinking in on me. Then I finally I realized this book is not about ‘who killed Emily’ nor ‘how she died,’ but a story of a boy and a girl who are deeply in love to the extent they feel each other’s pain as though it were their own.
The topic and theme of this book are really touchy and sensitive, yet at the same time they made me think and reflect what I would do if I were Emily. There were a lot of points and things I couldn’t agree with her wholeheartedly, but Jodi Picoult beautifully wrapped up this story and made Emily a bit more relatable than I initially thought.
Another thing about this book that gripped me is, as I mentioned earlier, the author’s prowess in writing very convincing and realistic characters. Not all the characters are flawless, sometimes her characters are being so obnoxious, too impulsive and make me dislike (or hate) them so much. Seriously, I could feel the venom that Melanie, Emily’s mother was spewing as she goes through a downward character change. Yet at the same time, it was such emotional effects that reeled me into the story and I enjoyed how her characters’ emotional fluctuations – even the tiniest one – can affect the course of the plot. Trust me, there are a lot of it happening in this book. Which is another element that makes this book riveting and entertaining.
Overall, I found this book really addictive and hard to put down. The court scene that spans over 100 pages is so exhilarating and delightful to read, I am certain that it will hold you in thrall, and the twist from there will make your heart ache.
Although it took me over a year to actually pick up this book, but I am glad I did. In fact, I now want to try another Jodi Picoult book. Do you have any suggestions?
My rating: ★★★★
A bit of an excuse for my rating: there was nothing that I felt amiss in this book, but when asked if I found this book ‘amazing,’ it doesn’t feel right. Because this book didn’t blow me away (emotionally speaking). I think it totally depends on the tone of the book. Unless it was written in a very suspenseful way that makes you feel like being in the midst of a whirlwind or something, it’s hard to call a book ‘amazing’ at least for me. This book doesn’t fall into that category; it’s more like feeling all the suspense and tension crawling under your skin. The execution is done in a very subtle, yet distinctive way.
For that reason, I gave this book 4 stars. But as I said, there was nothing amiss about this book, I would give this book 5 stars if the rating system (Goodreads) was based on ‘how well I think this book is written,’ in case you’re wondering 😉