Monday, November 28, 2011

The Pact: Intense Fiction by Jodi Picoult

"There was nothing left to say."
~The Pact, Jodi Picoult


Whew! It took me forever to read The Pact: A Love Story, published in 1998, by Jodi Picoult. I started it about a month ago, and although I found the writing forceful, and read about fifty pages or so, I set it aside for at least a few weeks. It's a very intense book, and it was difficult for me to read it for any length of time. It would upset me greatly, and I had a hard time returning to it, even though I wanted to. Needless to say, suicide is not a light or pleasant topic, and this book, whose chapters alternate between the past and the present, revolves around an apparent suicide pact between two high school students, Chris Harte and Emily Gold. As Jodi Picoult states in the notes at the end of the book, she doesn't write books that are easy to read (or write, I'm sure!). The subject matter of this book is very disturbing, and as a parent it was even more harrowing for me to read. Still, that being said, I did eventually return to this book, and became thoroughly engaged and invested in The Pact, a story about two close friends who grew up together and grow to love each other in a romantic sense, which leads to tragic consequences. The families of Chris and Em were also very close, and although the relationship between the kids seemed desirable and inevitable, in hindsight there were grave problems caused by this very closeness, as well as from the outside world, and what happens is quite disturbing and profound. While reading, I knew that such a story could happen in real life, especially during the teenage years when every emotion seems to be greatly amplified. That is what is so frightening--this book is very realistic!

I wanted to know what really happened, I wanted to hear the truth, and I wanted Chris to have a chance to tell his side of the story, so I kept on reading, and was absolutely transfixed. Jodi Picoult handles many topics with aplomb--young love, ambivalent feelings, and taboo topics (in the book, Chris meets a remorseful young dad, Steve, in jail, who has allegedly shaken his baby to death in a moment of anger, an example of the author's ability to write honestly and sensitively about very difficult subjects)--and makes readers think deeply about tough questions, such as: how well do we know our own children, and who do we trust?

Kudos to Jodi Picoult! In spite of taking so long to finish reading this novel, I was rewarded by a book that is well-researched, believable, and full of suspense. The Pact is a must-read for tried and true Jodi Picoult fans, or for those who want a truly intense introduction to this prolific author, who writes so well that you are pulled into the story despite any initial resistance. I am now on a roll (well, sort of), and plan to read House Rules next for The Jodi Picoult Project. If you want to join this challenge, commit to reading at least one novel by this author before the conclusion of October 2012. Feel free to "grab" the button and use it on your own blog. I've just added a Page for this reading challenge, with a Mister Linky, so please submit any review links to that. Thanks!


As always, I welcome your comments.

18 comments:

  1. This was one of the first Picoult books I ever read. I remember wanting to know just exactly what had really happened between them.

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  2. Having a 37 year old son who committed suicide 7 years ago, I don't think I could ever get this book read. It is one I will have to pass by. I've only read one or two books by Jodi, and if memory serves me right I think I enjoyed them. It was a few years ago, so can't even remember the titles of the books.

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  3. Yes, a difficult topic !
    I bought a Jodi picoult's book in the airport when I came back, began to read it, and stopped because I had a hard time to try reading it (in english). In a few days, if I am a little more courageous, I'll try again....

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  4. I've read a couple of Picoult's books and I agree that her books are intense! However, I must admit I also found that she packed a little too many controversial topics in one book for me -- I found her story lines a bit contrived. Glad to hear you were rewarded in reading this one in the end (saying you enjoyed it seemed wrong somehow)!

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  5. Hmm, not sure my parenthetical comment made sense: I meant that for me to say "Glad you enjoyed it" seemed wrong somehow since it was such a difficult read, subject-matter-wise!

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  6. This sounds like an intense and disturbing read. I enjoyed your review. I can't wait to read Picoult. I might have to try this one.

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  7. I haven't read this one, but have enjoyed all of Picoult's books that I have read. They always make me think. She's coming here next March and I've already bought my ticket, but may not be able to go.

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  8. Gigi Ann, I am so sorry about your son.

    Thanks to all for the comments. More welcomed.

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  9. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much. This wasn't my favorite read by this author but it was a solid and intense read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!!

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  10. The Pact was one of the earliest Picoult books for me. It was powerful and tough at times as you mentioned. I really like this author (have read all her books). She always takes on controversial topics. Very nice review.

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  11. Nice review. I haven't read this book. I don't mind intense subjects but I think I'd have to be in the right mood to read this one.

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  12. I'm a big fan of Jodi Picoult too! I agree with you. All of her books that I have read so far are not easy reading. They're all thought-provoking, gnawing at your most uncomfortable and private ideas/thoughts/moral issues. She doesn't hesitate to attack those issues. A very courageous author. I have wept, I have gotten angry, upset, and moved by her books. I think the last book that I read was the one that they recently made a movie of, the story of two sisters, one very sick and the other was conceived for the main purpose of using her body to help the older sister. The book was so much better than the movie (as always). This is a nice review. I think I may go find this one when I get a chance. Thanks for sharing this. Oh, the joy of reading. Reading good books too. It's hard to find good books. Books that can provoke me, I mean. So I appreciate it every time I come across one.

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  13. I am reluctant to read Jodi Picoult because I think her books will just upset me too much. They are so hard hitting and really deal with some traumatic subjects. I am glad you have managed to read some of them.

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  14. I am not a big Picoult fan, but I know that she has a huge following. It sounds like this book was very powerful and like something that shook you to the core. Very interesting perspective today, Suko. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and reactions.

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  15. I've read a few of Picoult's books and some I love and some I shrug my shoulders at. This is one that was dark and uncomfortable and I did appreciate the story and was wrapped up in it. The one book that I really enjoyed from Picoult, though, was Keeping Faith. If you haven't read that one, I highly recommend that. I think even non-Picoult fans would enjoy that selection.

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  16. Thanks for a very honest review, as you say Jodi doesn't do easy books. I think this may well be my next read for your Jodi Picoult Project.

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  17. Thanks for all the comments. I plan on having a wrap-up post for this challenge, which will include links to all posts, so please let me know if you're participating. I'm also thinking about hosting a giveaway of some sort. Stay tuned!

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  18. Love how she tells a story from every character's perspective, it really gets you thinking and re-thinking what you already thought you thought!

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