Plain Truth, by Jodi Picoult (15 January — 16 January)

Oh, Jodi Picoult. Just when I’m so angry at you, the library suddenly has all of your books. I remembered this as one of Picoult’s books that Laura loved a bunch, so I grabbed it. Thank goodness I did!

Plain Truth starts with a girl secretly giving birth in a barn and hoping for God to solve her problem. She falls asleep holding her baby, but when she wakes up it’s gone, and that makes her pretty happy. Unfortunately, it is found in the morning, dead and hidden in a pile of clothing. Katie, eighteen years old and found bleeding from her vagina, is the prime suspect in the baby’s murder, but she is saying she never even had a baby.

Ellie, a high-powered defense attorney, has just completed the case of her life in acquitting a child molester and is feeling pretty dirty about the whole thing. She leaves Philadelphia and her lame-tastic boyfriend for some relaxing time near Amish country with her cousin Leda. Unfortunately for Ellie, Katie is Leda’s niece and Ellie finds herself not only representing an alleged baby-killer but also living and working on her farm as well.

I thought this novel was just great. I enjoyed learning about the Amish culture, and seeing how Ellie and Katie both had to make concessions to the other to make their partnership work. There was, as always, a bit of melodrama, and a nice neat little ending (I would love to cut out that page and just leave some ambiguity for the next reader, but the library probably frowns on that), but overall a good time and a much more engaging read than most of the books I’ve grabbed recently.

Rating: 8/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult (29 November — 1 December)

You know, I really don’t know why I keep reading Jodi Picoult. I mean, My Sister’s Keeper was awesome, and so were a couple other of her novels, but after reading something like six or seven of them those fancy plot twists are getting a little predictable and also contrived and annoying.

And yet I still enjoy them. I think it’s the same love I have for watching Law and Order on Sunday nights… I know that I’m probably not going to learn anything in the end, but it’s just so nice to let the story flow over me.

This one, though, I don’t know. It’s about a 14-year-old girl called Trixie (no, really) who gets dumped by her boyfriend, Jason, and then has some breakup sex with him at her friend Zephyr’s (no, REALLY) party, after not playing a game of “let’s be whores and give everyone blowjobs.”

That’s where the bad started, I think. The book was written in 2006, so this girl and her schoolmates would be around my brother’s age, and unless things really changed in three years or that’s just how they do it up in Maine, I can’t really be convinced that giving blowjobs is a party game. I guess maybe my brother and I just weren’t popular enough to be whores. Crying shame, that.

But! Taking that as fact, we then have Trixie coming home and declaring that Jason raped her. Okay, that sucks. And since Jason is the star of the hockey team, everyone (including 13 anonymous teachers at their high school) supports Jason over Trixie. That’s also bad news.

Oh, and at the same time, Trixie’s dad, Daniel, is coming to terms with the fact that his wife had an affair and also penning a comic book/graphic novel (not really clear which) called The Tenth Circle about a dad who loses his daughter to hell and has to find her with the help of Virgil. Did I mention that his wife is teaching a class on Dante? And, of course, Daniel is also worried that his wild, ass-kicking past is going to come back in full force if he ever has to see Jason.

There’s just… there’s a lot here. And while the story is definitely engrossing, as are all of Picoult’s stories, it’s just not satisfying in the end.

Well. Anyway. To be honest, I really should have stopped reading when Picoult claimed there were yellow Pixy Stix. Let’s get some fact-checking up in here, people.

Rating: 5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2006)

Keeping Faith, by Jodi Picoult (25 September — 3 October)

I love Jodi Picoult, but I did not particularly like Keeping Faith. The premise is interesting; a little girl called Faith is seeing God, even though she’s been raised essentially without religion by a Jew and a Christian. She performs some awesome miracles, like bringing people back from the dead and curing a baby with AIDS. It’s the rest of the book that’s rough.

Faith starts seeing God after she sees her father, Colin, with another woman. Colin goes off with the other woman, Jessica, to start a new family, and leaves his wife (or, after six weeks, ex-wife), Mariah, in the dust. Mariah is a doormat and has to figure out how to live without Colin without falling into a deep depression and also has to take care of her seemingly crazy daughter.

The press gets wind of Faith, and suddenly everyone wants to meet her, from reporters to rabbis and priests to Ian Fletcher, a tele-atheist. Ian is out to prove that Faith is a hoax all while Colin is out to prove that Mariah is an unfit mother so he can get custody of his daughter.

There are a lot of stories here, just as there are in all of Picoult’s other novels, but I don’t think she does as good a job juggling them here. A lot of people come in and then get ignored, and some very interesting plotlines never get resolved. Pooh.

Rating: 5/10

Change of Heart, by Jodi Picoult (6 June − 8 June)

So… yeah. I think we established a long time ago that I love Jodi Picoult. This is her newest book, and I waited a few weeks in a library queue for it. Unfortunately, the book was okay. I was expecting awesome.

The premise of the book is that the hired help kills a woman’s husband and daughter and is given the death penalty for it. He seeks to atone by donating his heart, after his execution, to the woman’s other daughter who has some heart condition or other. The catch is that he can’t give his heart after dying by lethal injection, so an ACLU lawyer starts up a fight to get him hanged instead using some laws about religion and a lovely court battle. Along the way miracles happen. Like, miracles miracles − water into wine, feeding many with a little, curing the sick/dead (very Green Mile), etc. Some people think the murderer is a second coming, others don’t, religion starts fights again.

Like I said, the book was okay − I saw a couple plot twists coming a hundred pages ahead, and the religion thing got a bit heavy-handed, but I still stayed up until 4 in the morning finishing it, and that’s got to be a good sign.

Rating: 6/10