~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.