Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chick Book Club

I'm in love.... with a new author, that is. Why didn't anyone tell me about Jodi Picoult before??! OMG, I've been loving her novels. LOVING THEM! I can't seem to get enough of them. In fact, I'm only tearing myself away from the one I'm currently burning through to post this and encourage everyone to go read her stuff.

The first Jodi Picoult novel I read was called Vanishing Acts. So excellent! I've always been drawn to character-driven novels, and that's where Jodi Picoult seems to excel. She writes of her characters in such detail and with such insight into tricky, emotionally charged situations that it's nearly impossible to put the book down. In Vanishing Acts, the story centers around 1 woman who had a fairly idyllic upbringing minus one major element: her mother was dead. Or, at least, that's what she believed. And then her world, her very foundation is rocked to the core when she learns the truth about her beginnings in this life and how different people view the same act quite differently. You read the story through various character viewpoints: the main character, her fiance, their best friend, her father, and even ultimately her mother. Their lives are so intertwined that nothing is black and white anymore, which is what makes the story so compelling and thought-provoking. You keep asking yourself the same question: what would *I* do in that circumstance?? When is something wrong actually right? It's captivating and grips you emotionally.

The Tenth Circle was the next novel I tore through. Also quite excellent. The main character is a young teenaged girl. The family seems normal enough - they see what they want to see, and choose not to see what's right in front of their eyes. Then something horrible and inexcusable happens, and you get to read about how quickly something can unravel and fall apart right before your very eyes. It deals with a very heavy topic: rape. Do you have to actually say the word "no" to give that intent? And also, as the mother of a daughter, I was more than a little interested to read the girls' story about when the double-life of a teenager begins. When do kids stop telling you everything and start to keep secrets. When are those little secrets just that, and when are they more. Dangerously more. I kept asking myself: what can I do, if anything, to remain connected to my daughter? What if I just *think* we're doing ok when in reality her world is something else completely? Will I miss the signs? Will there BE signs?? Tough, tough questions. This book is about that, and more. Awesome.

My Sisters Keeper is the book I'm currently reading. I'm about halfway through and I.can' Yet another no-win, no clear-cut right answer theme. This time, it's about another young teenaged girl who is the youngest child of 3. She was conceived strictly to save her older sisters life, who was diagnosed as a baby with leukemia. She's a perfect genetic match, engineered that way. A "designer baby". Her whole life she's understood that she's to donate whatever her sister might need to save her life: cord blood, bone marrow, and now, a kidney. Only this "donor" child now wants a say in whether she will donate something or not. She's never been asked - her parents make all the decisions since she's a minor. So despite the fact that her failing to donate a kidney will likely result in her sisters death, she wants to fight for the legal right to refuse to donate. How this action affects the family and relationships is the meat of the book. Again, you read it through everyone's perspective. You really get insights into each person, and you can understand their differing points of view. I start to wonder what *I* would do if one of my children fell victim to cancer and I could "save" that child by having another who could be a donor. Would I do it? My first instinct is to say, emphatically, YES! But that's before really considering what that would mean to the child conceived strictly to be a savior to the other. Sticky, sticky stuff. But gripping and that's why I can't stop reading.

From what I can tell, most of Jodi Picoult's stories about the family relationships. The dynamics that exist between husbands and wives, sons and daughters. The complex nature of those interactions, so heavy with history and understanding, and yet so often completely misunderstood. Throw in an emotionally-charged event and offer some impressive insights, a dash of angst, and a smidge of doubt for good measure, and you have the makings of a real page-turner. These are not "chick books" - not by a long shot. They are not light reads, either, in that they completely suck you in and you find yourself dwelling on the topic even after you've finished the chapter and book. But they are quick reads, at least for me, simply because they are so compelling that I can't help myself but to dive in for more as often as possible.

I read as I make breakfast. I read as I eat breakfast.

I read in the bathroom (dirty little secret - TMI?)

I read during naptime, if there IS a naptime (grrr! children who don't nap annoy me)

I read in bed before going to sleep every.single.night. Without fail.

I read A LOT.

If you like to read, and haven't yet discovered the joy that is a Jodi Picoult novel, I urge you to get your closest public library and get yourself one of her books to read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I LOVED "The Pact". It's so good... you'll enjoy it! I'm a big JP fan myself.
Awesome! I will check her out!

Have fun at your chick retreat! HOW WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!

OH my gosh! I read my first book of hers last week. It was Plain Truth about an amish girl who has a baby that is found dead. I read the whole thing in a weekend, it was sooooo good! My kids were camping with their grandparents and I took advantage of it by reading. I am now reading My Sisters Keeper which I am sure you have finished by now. It too is soooo good. I love how you get to know all the charactors and get attached to them. I am guilty of looking at the last page when I read which ruins the suspence. Enjoy!
Oh my gosh(again)! I just finished reading My Sisters Keeper. Aaaaaaggggghhhhhh! Did you finish it? I am in shock. I don't know if I should tell the whole world to read it or the opposite. Wow!

I know you have other things on your mind right now. But I just had to write to another Jodi Picault fan...
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