Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: 2001, Washington Square Press
Synopsis: Love can redeem a man...but secrets and lies can condemn him. A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: once a teacher at a girls' prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets -- and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.
Review: Whenever I need a break from aliens, spaceships, dragons and knights, Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors to turn to. Her books are always fast reads; impossible to put down stories of the joy and tragedy of life. This story is no exception.
This page-turner takes a look at witchcraft and rape, a seemingly odd combination and certainly two risky topics to write about. So many things could have gone badly with such sensitive issues being discussed, but the story works perfectly. The ending shocked and saddened me. The girl who starts most of the trouble in the story, Gillian, turns out to be the most troubled teenager in town. I won't give it away, but I certainly didn't see myself ever feeling sorry for her....until I did.
The main characters (teenager and adult alike) are well-rounded and believable. There are no perfect people in Ms. Picoult's stories and that, to me, makes them all the more enjoyable. I really loved this story. It was unusual and made me question my own preconceptions about the subject matter.
Rating: 9 / 10