by Jodi Picoult
Paperback – 10 Oct. 2013
I haven’t read a book by Jodi Picoult for a while and this one has been sat on my bookshelf for quite a while. I have now been reminded how much I enjoy her writing.
The story is centred around Jack St. Bride, a handsome teacher who is accused of sexual assault by one of his teenage students and is convinced by his lawyer to accept a plea bargain rather than face a trial he might not win despite his innocence. He serves eight months in prison and on his release finds himself in Salem Falls in the hope of making a fresh start where no-one knows him.
When he meets Addie, it seems his life might finally be changing for the better.
The residents of Salem Falls soon get wind of his previous jail time though and some are determined to drive him out of their town. A certain local teenager sets about trying to get him thrown back in jail once again by claiming he brutally raped her in the woods. Her closest friends are backing up her story, but Jack knows he did not do what he is being accused of, again. This time he will go to trial and prove his innocence. Who will the jury believe though?
This is such a compelling story and one which made me question what I believed to be true many times throughout.
It’s scary to think how many men are falsely accused of horrific attacks and have their lives devastated by lies. It’s also scary to think how many genuine girls/women are disbelieved because of those who have made up stories. I understand every accusation must be investigated (rightly so), but it must be terrifying to be at the mercy of the courts knowing you have done nothing wrong.
I loved the relationship that develops between Jack and Addie. Addie is such a likeable, genuine character who has already had her fair share of heartache. I was really hoping they could find happiness and move on from their traumas together.
The behaviour of the girls in this story is quite frightening. The relationship between one of them and her father even more so. The very end of this story is chilling. It explains a lot at the same time as raising more questions.