Monday, February 18, 2008
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
This is another book for the A to Z Challenge. It is the first one I've ever read by Picoult. I've read so much about her on other people's blogs that I had to try her out.
This one is the story of Jack St. Bride who comes to the small town of Salem Falls after spending time in prison for a sexual assault that he did not commit. He falls for Addie, the owner of the local diner, who is still mourning the death of her daughter. Jack is accused of another sexual assault by the teenage daughter of the most influential man in the small town. As the story unfolds, it is unclear whose story to believe.
STRENGTHS OF SALEM FALLS: Picoult is a great story teller. She doles out just enough information to keep the plot moving without giving everything away. In this book, she did a nice job of using flashbacks to tell Jack's back story. However, she did not make him a blameless victim. There are incidents in his past which lead us as readers to doubt him. The same can be said of Addie, whose back story is also slowly revealed. I did like the relationship between these two damaged and imperfect people. Picoult also held my attention through the trial sequence and really created doubt in my mind as the trial came to its ending.
WEAKNESSES OF SALEM FALLS: There is a whole subplot where Jack's teenage accuser is a practicing Wiccan (or witch.) I thought that part was a bit silly and demeaning to some people's beliefs. I totally understood the connection Picoult was making to the Salem Witch Trials of history, but it felt forced and unnecesary. I truly think she could have left that part out and the story would have still hung together and been riveting. This is especially true when she hints at the ultimate twist right at the end of the novel. That would have been a more interesting way to develop Gilly's character.
Overall, I'd give this one four stars. It was entertaining, and I'll definitely be reading more books by Picoult. I'd welcome ideas about which other books I might like.