Title: Salem Falls
Author: Jodi Picoult
Date Read: September 7, 2013
Summary: Love can redeem a man...but secrets and lies can condemn him.A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: Once a teacher at a girls' prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets - and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him. goodreads
Review: This is actually a tough review for me. I enjoyed the book because I was interested in where the story would go and which characters would be redeemed (or condemned) but I have an overall icky feeling when I think back to it. You may or may not be able to tell from the summary that part of this book is about rape. And multiple rapes at that. I'm going to go ahead and warn you that this book has some heavy stuff in it and the following review will as well, so if you aren't up for that, come back tomorrow :)
To be honest, I didn't know where this book was going. I didn't know who to believe!!! As a therapist, I always want to believe the victim but I also know that victims are humans and human lie. Lying was a big part of this story and it provided a glimpse into how a little lie can explode and ruin someones life. Don't get me wrong, I don't think lying about being a rape victim is a little lie. I think that is disgusting and that it makes it harder for real victims to get the help they need. But part of me hopes that the girls in this book weren't entirely malicious and the stories that eventually got out of control, maybe started out as little lies without the intent of ruining people lives. Maybe. Putting all of my feelings about the content of this book into words is hard and I don't want to stand on a soapbox but this book hit home for me because I see things like this almost every day.
Now, on to the characters. I don't think I really liked any characters in this book. The teenage girls were spiteful, vindictive, and immature. I know that is true to some girls who are that age but not all of them and I would have liked at least one redeeming character. On the other hand, maybe the author was making a point that all of us are flawed. In that case, good point but I still want an enjoyable character. I did enjoy learning about Jack's past and the different phases of his life that created who he became. But once again, it focused on how flawed he was and the mistakes he made that likely hurt a lot of people. As I'm writing this review, I keep thinking, maybe that's what Jodi Picoult wanted. For the reader to think, "ugh, this guy did horrible things but he's not a horrible person." Like I said, if that's the case, more power to you for getting deep and symbolic on us but I just wasn't feeling it. I know people are flawed. I know people make mistakes and sometimes deserve a second chance. I don't need to read a book about rape and wiccans to know that.
Then the ending. Was that really necessary? My note for the end of the book was "WTF?!?! And I knew it!" Once again, my profession provides me with experience to be able to see things differently. It helps me understand Gilly and to an extent, and why she did what she did, but it doesn't make it ok. This ending makes everything not ok. The majority of the book I thought Gilly was a brat, and she was, but I could at least understand her by the end of the book so part of me appreciates the author's story. Still don't know if parts of it were necessary. And I would have liked a better developed relationship between Addie and Jack. I didn't like them together and I thought their attraction wasn't well developed. This review took on a life of it's own so I'm going to end it now. And I've gone back and forth between a 3 and a 4 (may be surprising after this review but I did find myself wanting to read more) and I've finally settled on a 3. Anyone else read this book?