Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Salon: Jodi Picoult and things to come

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! To celebrate the holiday, I spent the day winetasting with my boyfriend and his parents. It was beautiful up in Amador County today and I discovered a lot of great new wineries. And the best part? I finished my latest book on the drive up and in between wineries, which means I get to start on some new books this week on the commute to my new job! Lots of changes this week so I don't know how much time I'll have to blog (or to run), but I'm going to try to keep it up.

Just in case though, I thought I'd include a review of my most recent book in today's Sunday Salon (my first!). Originally I'd planned to do a review every Monday, but I've been reading books faster than I'd planned and as it turns out I have more time on Sundays. Who knew?

OK, OK, on to the review: Today I finished my second Jodi Picoult book, Plain Truth. The book is about an Amish teenager who has a baby out of wedlock and is accused of murder when the baby is found dead near the barn where it was birthed. The teenager, Katie, is represented in court by her non-Amish cousin Ellie who happened to be visiting their ex-Amish aunt at the time of the birth. Ellie had just finished a high-profile case and had been trying to get away from a bad relationship and rethink her life while staying at her aunt's house. Instead she found herself thrown right back into work, only this time it required her to stay on an Amish farm, where she was ordered by the judge to babysit her client.

A lot of people take issue with Picoult's writing because she uses similar visual images in all of her books (curling up in the shape of a comma, etc.), but I honestly wouldn't have noticed it if nobody had ever pointed it out to me. (So sorry to now be the one to have pointed it out to you!) Personally, I really enjoyed both of the books I've read by Picoult (My Sister's Keeper and now this one). She picks incredibly interesting plots on current issues and she always includes turns that make her work unique.

As for Plain Truth, it is the first book I've ever read about the Amish and I was glad she included a ton of background on them (background gleaned from her own experience living with an Amish family as part of her research for the book). I find the Amish way to be incredibly interesting, although until now I had remained extremely ignorant about why and how they live the way they do. This book helped me to understand them a little bit better. I also enjoyed watching the relationship grow between the two cousins, who were unknown to each other before the trial. The ending didn't catch me off guard as much as in My Sister's Keeper. I kind of knew what was coming from the hints earlier in the book, and also because I'm sort of a law media junky (I have been known to watch reruns of Law & Order and CSI for six hours straight). Overall this was a great read and very quick, which I love.

If you enjoy books about law, I think you'd enjoy Picoult's books. Sometimes I think of her as the female John Grisham, even though I know that their writing styles are very different. Grisham tends to be more of a thriller law writer, while Picoult's are more about the characters and their underlying reasons for going to court. When I was younger John Grisham was my second author love (Roald Dahl was my first), and I devoured everything he wrote. I think Jodi Picoult will probably take his place for me, as I now have three of her books on hold at the library. What can I say? Once I like a writer, I feel like I have to read their entire body of work. So I guess I'll be alternating between Margaret Atwood and Jodi Picoult for the next few years. At least I finally have some favorite female authors.

This book has also been reviewed by:
Trish at Trish's Reading Room

As for other reading, today I started Dematerializing: Taming the Power of Possessions just to break away from all of this fiction I've been reading lately. I've also been reading High Infatuation by Steph Davis and, of course, our book club selection, Year of Wonders. What are you reading this week?


LisaMM said...

I've only read My Sister's Keeper ( loved it) and Harvesting the Heart (really disliked it!) so I guess I'm on the fence about her! Maybe I'll try this one for a 'tie breaker'!

Becca said...

I went to your blog to try to find a review about Harvesting the Heart but I didn't find one. So I had to look it up on Amazon. It sounds like an interesting story, but as it was Picoult's second book I can see how it may not have been as good as some of her more recent work. Then again, maybe I'm just making excuses because I really want to like her despite all the bad stuff I read about her.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Salon. I have to say that I think you may have read the best of Jodi Picoult in the two books you've selected. I loved 'My Sister's Keeper' which was the first one I read, and then moved onto 'Plain Truth' which I thought was even better. I've been slightly disappointed since though because I do feel it's the same formula each time. I'd recommend putting quite a distance between any further reads so that you don't feel the similarity so strongly.

gautami tripathy said...

I have read 8 of her books. This is not one of them! Second Glamce is about Amish too. It is very different from what she writes. Do check it out!

Not many have heard of that. You can check the review on my blog, clicking books reviewed in 2007.

Chason said...

I see Picoult books at Sam's Club all lined up in rows. As with John Grisham's paperbacks, the paperback covers of Picoult's books look very similar: same layout, same font, similar pictures. I like the design style, but when I see them all lined up like that I can't help but feel like they were made on an assembly line. As you know, I really enjoy reading John Grisham's books, but I am well aware of the fact that many people who are serious readers of "literature" view Grisham's books, alone with the books of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and others, as popcorn reading, not to be taken seriously. Seeing as how I have enjoyed his books, I'm pretty sure I would enjoy Picoult's writing as well. It's just hard for me to shake the idea that because they are considered "popcorn" reading they wouldn't require much thought or really challenge my mind, which is what I've been trying to do with my choices in what to read lately. That's why I am reading the books you choose for the club.

Becca said...

Table Talk: I've got to say there are actually a couple of books by Picoult that I've nixed, namely Nineteen Minutes. If I were forced to read that book I think I'd end up throwing it off a bridge just to get rid of it.

Gautami: Thanks for the suggestion! I'll look into it.

Chaz: I read Picoult's book exactly because they are "Popcorn" reads. Sometimes I just really need a break from my towering reading list and I know her books will be quick and easy to read in between drives to work or interruptions from the boyfriend. I don't think it's a bad thing to sometimes lower your standards. If you don't, you may forget that you began reading because you enjoy it so much. At least that's what happens with me.

Stephanie said...

I've been a big fan of Picoult for a long time. I really loved this book. I think it's probably one of her best. I thought My Sister's Keeper was very good as well!

Trish said...

I *loved* My Sister's Keeper. I also really liked The Pact, Salem Falls, and Keeping Faith. And, I don't like law books. :) I've never noticed the similar visual descriptions--I'll have to keep my eye open for that!

Becca said...

Trish: The Pact is the next on my list. I have three checked out from the library but The Pact is the one that really got my attention. The others I have checked out are Keeping Faith and The Tenth Circle. Have you read The Tenth Circle? What did you think?

Trish said...

Tenth Circle is my least favorite. I do have a review from last year, but my rating is very inflated (looking back in hindsight). I read The Pact years ago, but I remember it being very good--one of those where I had to cover the page with my hand so that my eyes wouldn't wander and "cheat". :) I really liked Keeping Faith as well