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.


Maw Books said...

Well, now I don't feel so bad. I thought everybody had read Picoult but me. In fact, I only even heard of her just two months ago. Have I been living under a rock? That said, I am right smack in the middle of Nineteen Minutes and I can't put it down. Okay, actually I did set it down to write this comment. Gotta go . . .

Literary Feline said...

I have read four of Picoult's books so far and have enjoyed each one. I really like how she presents several different sides to the story. Nothing is quite as simple as it might seem where we sit. I would recommend you try Plain Truth or My Sister's Keeper. Both are pretty good and well researched. I have also read Vanishing Acts, which I liked, but it's gotten mixed reviews. Salem Falls was the other one I've read and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Trish said...

I'm not sure which ones YOU would like, but I'll happily tell you which ones I liked. :) My favorites are My Sister's Keeper, The Pact, and Keeping Faith. I recently read Plain Truth (can't remember if you were one of the ones who left a comment so sorry if I'm repeating myself) and it was good, but not as good as the others. Nineteen Minutes was also good; The Tenth Circle is my least favorite. I have Salem Falls on one of my challenges for this year, so I'll be reading it soon.

I, too, love that her characters are flawed.

BookGal said...

Trish and Literary - Plain Truth is one it's way to me right now. I'm excited.

Maw - Maybe we were both under the same rock!

gautami tripathy said...

After learning about Picoult in Sep '07, I have finished 8 of her books. Not bad! This one is my favourite!

BTW, I have linked this review too, with my review!