Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: contemporary fiction
Hardcover: 434 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): When Jack St. Bride arrives by chance in the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls, he decides to reinvent himself. Tall, blond, and handsome, Jack was once a beloved teacher and soccer coach at a girls' prep school -- until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his reputation. Now, working for minimum wage washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, Jack buries his past, content to become the mysterious stranger who has appeared out of the blue. With ghosts of her own haunting her, Addie Peabody is as cautious around men as Jack St. Bride is around women. But as this unassuming stranger steps smoothly into the diner's daily routine, she finds him fitting just as comfortably inside her heart -- and slowly, a gentle, healing love takes hold between them. Yet planting roots in Salem Falls may prove fateful for Jack. Amid the white-painted centuries-old churches, a quartet of bored, privileged teenage girls have formed a coven that is crossing the line between amusement and malicious intent. Quick to notice the attractive new employee at Addie's diner, the girls turn Jack's world upside down with a shattering allegation that causes history to repeat itself -- and forces Jack to proclaim his innocence once again. Suddenly nothing in Salem Falls is as it seems: a safe haven turns dangerous, an innocent girl meets evil face-to-face, a dishwasher with a Ph.D. is revealed to be an ex-con. As Jack's hidden past catches up with him, the seams of this tiny town begin to tear, and the emerging truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray. Now Addie, desperate for answers, must look into her heart -- and into Jack's lies andshadowy secrets -- for evidence that will condemn or redeem the man she has come to love.
My Thoughts: This is my second Jodi Picoult book and this one was just as good as her first one that I read, The Pact. Some of the characters that were in that book were also in this one, but the story was completely different in this one. Dealing with statutory rape charges and second changes, Picoult weaves a story of one man attempting to start his life over while a small, New England town tries to drive him out. The story was fantastic and as a reader, you wanted to believe that Jack is innocent, but you aren't entirely sure. You want Addie to find the peace that she deserves and to move on from the loss of her daughter. You want Gillian and her friends to realize how drastic their accusations can be.
The characters in this novel were fantastic. Picoult creates believable people, people who you root for (even if you aren't sure why). Jack is one of those characters. You don't know why you are rooting for him, but you are. You don't want him to be convicted, you don't want him to have to pay for a mistake that he didn't make. The teenage girls were also well-crafted. They were that perfect mix of a bratty girl clique who think that they know everything without it being too much. The only real complaint that I have about this novel are the passages that reflect back on Jack's past. I just felt like they didn't fit well with the rest of the novel and they didn't add much to the story. Overall, this was a great story, one that I wish didn't have to end. I will continue to read Picoult's novels and look forward to getting another book of hers from the library.