Saturday, March 22, 2008

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

This is my third Picoult book and I read it for the A to Z Challenge. It is a long one at just over 500 pages. I picked it up because the concept of Picoult mixed with Amish culture was appealing. I also really liked My Sister's Keeper and Salem Falls.

This is the story of two women. Ellie is a high powered defense attorney who is having a life and career crisis at the start of the book. She is also having a "biological clock ticking" crisis as well. Katie is an 18 year old unmarried Amish girl who lives and works on her family's dairy farm. Ellie and Katie share an aunt and, when Katie is accused of murdering her newborn infant boy, Ellie is recruited as her defense attorney. To further complicate the plot, Ellie is forced to live, and work, on Katie's family farm as a term of Katie's bail agreement. Thus, Ellie, and the reader, are immersed in Amish life and culture throughout the story. Also, in the story Katie has an Amish boyfriend who is not the baby's father, and Ellie rekindles a romance with an old flame who she calls in to assess Katie's mental competence.

Strengths of Plain Truth: As usual, Picoult is a great story teller with interesting twists and turns to the plot. Katie does not remember the events of the boy's birth so Picoult is able to bring out a variety of facts throughout the story to engage the reader's interest. It appears that she did some extensive research on the Amish because this book really made their culture and beliefs come alive for me. Also, Ellie and Katie are both strong characters in their own ways. Katie has a quiet strength which Ellie learns to appreciate, and Ellie has a worldliness that Katie appreciates as well.

Weaknesses of Plain Truth: I honesty did not like this one as much as the other two books I've read by her. I intensely disliked the ending. If you've read the book, I'd be curious about your reaction. It seemed too easy and too much of a cop out after the trial was over. I also saw the final twist coming about halfway through the book, and I don't like twists that are so obvious. While I did like the details about Amish culture, I thought the book could have been more carefully edited and didn't need to be quite so long. I also got a bit fed up with Ellie's romantic side plot and all of the emphasis on the shunned brother's character. I actually started to skim about 3/4 of the way because I was getting fed up with the characters and drawn out plot.

Overall, this one was not one of her best. I'd have to give it 3 stars. I'd still recommend My Sister's Keeper over this one.


How Cool Is This? said...

Do you, by any chance, have a recommendation of a YA book (or something suitable for a 6th grader) to read about Amish life? I have a friend that asked me about this the other day because her daughter has to write a report and can't find interesting information -- I thought an fact-based novel might do that trick. Thanks!

Mrs S | 50 Book Challenge said...

I enjoyed this novel - but agree that My Sister's Keeper is better (I think it may be her best and therefore hard to beat).

Great review - I like the way you cover the strengths and weaknesses. I can't comment on what I thought of the end as I can't remember what happened! One of the reasons I started my bog was so I could write down what I thought of books so that I remember these important details *lol*

BookGal said...

how cool - I don't have any ideas. If anyone has a YA book idea, leave a comment and I'll make sure to pass it along.

mrs. s - That's part of why I started my blog but I really hate it when other people wreck the ending of a book so I try really hard not to do that.

Maw Books said...

I've just started reading Jodi Picoult. I won't rush this one but have Change of Heart ready at the library for me and My Sister's Keeper on my bookshelf, which everybody seems to think is the best one.

Trish said...

I admit that I had the ending wrong--I thought it was her father instead of her mom--so I wasn't *too* surprised.

Anyway I didnt' feel that same pull with this book as I did with the others--particularly because we knew that she had the baby and I thought her "amnesia" was a weak ploy to carry on the plot. I did like the Amish insights, though.

Anonymous said...

hi. just finished plain truth a minute ago and i am confused. did the mom kill the baby to save her own daughter OR did she find the baby dead and hide the body? what difference did the scissors make??? they were not the murder weapon and it was already determined that scissors were used to cut the cord. please write me and let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with what you said about the ending. I am reading this novel for my grade 11 english class, and I was disappointed at how quick the ending came. To me it seemed like she took an easy way out to end the novel. I think she is a fantastic writer, however I was expecting much more out of the ending.