Sunday, June 21, 2015

From the Archives: Plain Truth and Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are some of my reviews from 2006:


Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Washington Square Press, 2000
Fiction; 405 pgs

Jodi Picoult is an amazing author. She takes on difficult subject matters and weaves a story that is complex, engrossing, and thought provoking. Despite the heavy subject matter of her books, they are next to impossible to put down, always fast flowing and intriguing. A reader rarely knows what to expect next. She did no less with Plain Truth where she brings the world of the Old Order Amish and modern American culture together. An Amish unmarried young woman is charged with the murder of her newborn child, a baby born in a barn of her family’s farm in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Defense attorney, Ellie Hathaway, trying to run from her old life and find out where exactly she wants to go, finds herself reluctantly coming to the girl’s aid. Katie and Ellie form an unusual bond despite their circumstances. From the interview in the back of the book, Jodi Picoult researched her topics thoroughly: neonatacide, farming and the Amish culture. Plain Truth touches on such subjects as community versus individuality, as well as the strength of faith, family, culture and truth. Plain Truth was a moving book that tugs at the heartstrings on many levels. Behind the main story line are the characters and their own struggles, all of which the author brought to the forefront with her usual expertise. The pain, the sadness, the joy, the love . . . All of it came flying off of the pages as I read. 


Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Atria, 2001
Fiction; 434 pgs

Upon his release from jail after serving time for sexually assaulting a teenage student, former teacher Jack St. Bride is looking to start over. He takes a job in the small community of Salem Falls as a dishwasher, working for a woman who is fighting off her own demons. Jack denies ever having assaulted anyone, much less having a sexual relationship with an underage girl, however, his past conviction creates quite a stir in the community when the townspeople learn about it. Suddenly Jack finds himself at the heart of a rape allegation by the daughter of the wealthiest man in Salem Falls. She and her three friends are a coven of witches who like to cast spells. No real surprises lurked around the corner in Salem Falls for me as they have in previous books by the same author. Just the same, Salem Falls was a very powerful and thought provoking novel. Besides taking on the subject of rape first hand, Ms. Picoult also opened the door for discussion about community reactions to those who have been punished for crimes and are looking to restart their lives again. While no one wants a child molester living next door, what if that person was really innocent and had been falsely accused? The subject matter of Wicca, which Ms. Picoult did a good job of portraying, including pointing out the misconceptions about the religion, was raised. It made for an interesting parallel, the community uprising at Jack’s presence in town and his nearly being figuratively burned at the stake by women who live under a banner that once had been under a similar attack. As expected, Ms. Picoult has created three-dimensional characters that come to life right from the pages. Readers get into their heads and know their hearts while at the same time, we are kept at a little distance so we don’t truly know them, one of the points that Ms. Picoult commented in the readers’ guide she wanted to make. Ms. Picoult has yet again expertly weaved her story together. Another excellent novel!


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

13 comments:

  1. I've read the first one of these, many years ago. And I always meant to read the second one. Salem Falls makes you inevitably think of the Salem witch trials and that fact alone made this interesting to me. Now to get it read. LOL

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    1. Kay - I imagine the author picked the title for that reason. :-)

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  2. Despite the formulaic nature of many of her books I still enjoy them .... some more than others. I did enjoy the two books you feature but not so much The Storyteller which was probably one of the last of her books I read.

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    1. Tracy - I haven't had a chance to read The Storyteller.Honestly, I'm not sure I want to. I enjoy her books, but I have to spread out my reading of them because they are so formulaic--and the subject matter has to appeal to me.

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  3. I think I've only read two or three books by this author; my most unforgettable read is My Sister's Keeper, it's so touching and thought-provoking as well. Both of these books sound equally good and lots of issues to think about.

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    1. I think I have read five of her books in all. My Sister's Keeper was the first I read by her and it had me in tears. I like how Picoult tackles issues that are relevant to the time and gets the reader to think about multiple sides of an issue and not just the most obvious one.

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  4. Haven't read either of these but they certainly sound interesting. Its fun to go back and look at how we use to write reviews compared to now:)

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    1. Lanie - Yes, it is interesting to make a comparison, including my opinions of the books now that so much time has passed. It's funny how sometimes even that can change.

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  5. I've just never been able to finish a Jodi Picoult book (I've only tried two and I can't even remember which they were anymore!). Almost everyone I know raves about them, though.

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    1. A.M.B. - I know a lot of people who can't stand Picoult's books, and so you are far from alone. :-)

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  6. I've read couple of Jodi Picoult books but they haven't captured me quite as much as I hoped they would. She can certainly tell a story though and it's hard to put her books down.

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  7. Athira - I don't know if I would have liked these as much now as I did then. I can't say I'm inclined to re-read them--so I'll stick to having enjoyed them so much in the past.

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  8. I remember reading Salem Falls awhile back and enjoyed it although it wasn't my favorite by her. I used to read a lot of her books but as I got into blogging I found myself drawn to other types of books. As always I enjoyed reading your thoughts on these :)

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