While my favourite book genres are fantasy and dystopian, I do have the occasional ‘grown up’ book that I read. For me, a lover of easy to read, easy to follow, nothing too complicated books with possible sequels and a twist of the supernatural or magical, a ‘grown up’ book is what normal people probably just call ‘general fiction’, perhaps ‘contemporary fiction’. You know, books that are about real life, with plausible situations, characters you might actually bump into on the street, laws and politics, and big words. Lots of big words. Normally it’s difficult for me to get into a book like that, but not with Jodi Picoult’s books. I find that once I start one of her novels, not only can I not put it down, but I find myself thinking about it days after.
My first Jodi Picoult book was probably the most famous: My Sister’s Keeper. It was our year 13 (last year of high school) novel to read and then study, and while My Sister’s Keeper is actually one of my least favourite books of Picoult’s, it was the one that sparked my interest. Since then (6 years ago), I think I’ve read about 11 of the 22 she has published so far. Today I thought I’d share with you my 3 favourite novels.
Neighbours since forever ago, Chris and Emily’s long ‘girl/boy girl next’ friendship turns into something more. They are inseparable, they are soul mates. It comes as the most shocking news from the hospital one night when they call to say that Emily is dead: a gunshot to the head. There’s one single bullet left in the gun that Chris had taken from his father’s cabinet when he left to meet Emily that night. Chris says that that bullet was meant for him, but the detective on the case can’t help but wonder about the truth behind the suicide pact. This is an incredible story about families in anguish, about how well we know people, about the bonds of friendship, about love.
In the state of Pennsylvania, a dead infant is found in the barn of an Amish community. Two things are then discovered: the baby’s mother was unmarried 18 year old Amish girl, Katie, and the baby’s death was not natural. Katie denies giving medical proof that it is her baby, and is arrested for her murder. Defence attorney Ellie Hathaway takes on Katie’s case, but soon realises there are so many more challenges than that of her other cases. A clash of cultures, of life-views and of a whole other world emerge and Ellie begins to truly understand what it’s like to live in Amish community. Another great story of relationships, love and loss, community and family pressure and sacrifices. It’s also a great insight into a little bit of the Amish way of life, something that Picoult portrays very well.
June Nealon’s world is shattered when her husband and daughter are killed. Shay Bourne, their killer, is now the first death-row prisoner in New Hampshire in 69 years. Eleven years on death row and finally a date has been set for his execution. His last request? To donate his healthy heart to June’s other daughter, Claire, who has a terminal heart condition. With the assistance of Maggie Bloom the lawyer, Father Michael the priest, and Ian Fletcher, a character from another of Picoult’s books, Keeping Faith, events unfold in the court room and secrets are unearthed. An interesting look into religion and faith, and also the death penalty, this is a very moving story, and Picoult, as she always does, handles every aspect of it wonderfully.
One of the things I love about Picoult’s novels is that they are told from varying points of view. Each book has 4 or 5 main characters that tell their story, alternating chapters. It’s something that Picoult does extremely well, and it definitely helps to understand the characters and their actions a lot more. I also love the occasional cameo appearances from other characters in other books. I do find, however, that I can only read one of her books, then I need about a 6 month break before I can read another. There’s only so many ‘grown up’ books you can read in a row.
Images from Good Reads. Links in title of book.