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The Storyteller (2013)

Sage Singer slaves away her nights working in a bakery to hide herself from the world due to a facial scar. Her mother died three years ago and she attends a grief counselling session. This is the only contact she has with the world outside the bakery. At the counselling group she meets Josef Weber, an elderly German. He chooses Sage as his confidante to unearth a secret he has kept buried for over 60 years. When Sage learns of Josef's secret, she finds out her grandmother was a survivor at one of the Auschwitz death camps. The middle section of the book is devoted to the story of Sage's grandmother and then returns to the story of Sage and Josef. This book is by far the best Jodi Picoult novel. It strays away from her usual courtroom drama novel but still has a moral dilemma and a great twist at the end. The book is engrossing, gripping, clever and very sad in places. Cancel all your plans once you start this book, you will not want to put it down! (SG)

Lone Wolf (2012)

A separated family is brought back together by a terrible accident. Edward has been living away in Thailand, after having an argument with his father Luke, an animal conservationist. Luke has become famous after living with a pack of wolves. One day Edward receives a frantic phone call that his family has been involved in a car accident. His father, Luke, lies in a coma in hospital, while his 17-year-old sister Cara has not been so severely injured. Cara holds a grudge against her brother for leaving the family. Lone Wolf tells the story of two siblings' fight to keep their father alive. Cara is praying for a miracle and that her father will recover from the accident. On the other hand Edward's wish is to turn off the life support machine and donate his organs. As the engrossing story unfolds, the reader is eager to learn what actually happened between Edward and Luke and if Cara is telling the whole truth about the accident. Although this book is a must-read for Picoult fans, I would not recommend that someone new to her work should start with this book. Picoult writes in a certain way, showing in-depth research and knowledge. The details about living with a pack of wolves could put a reader off reading more of her work. (SG)

Sing You Home (2011)

Zoe has been trying to get pregnant for more than 10 years. One day she discovers she is pregnant but sadly miscarries. Her world collapses and she divorces husband Max. Zoe, a musical therapist, throws herself into her work and finds herself developing a friendship with Vanessa whom she works with. They become involved in a sexual and emotional relationship and Zoe's desire for children returns. Zoe and Max have some remaining frozen embryos. Zoe needs Max's permission to use the embryos for her and Vanessa to have a child together. However Max will not grant his permission and as a result Zoe and Vanessa face a courtroom battle with him. I did not enjoy this novel as much as I have enjoyed other works of Picoult's. For some reason I found it hard to sympathise and connect with the characters. If you are new to Picoult, start with another book. (SG)

House Rules (2010)

Jacob Hunt suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. He is unaware of the world around him and struggles to fit in with people. Jacob is also a very bright child and is obsessed with the forensic aspects of life such as looking for fingerprints and watching forensic programs, one which he must watch every day. His brother, Theo, becomes more and more jealous of the constant care and attention and money that is spent on Jacob and develops a habit of truancy. One day when their mother returns home, she finds that Jacob's tutor has been murdered. She must question whether she thinks her autistic son is capable of committing murder. This is a real page-turner as the reader is anxious to find out the truth. And of course there is a solid twist within the story. (SG)

Handle with Care (2009)

This tells the story of Willow who is born with a severe form of brittle bone disease. If she slips, she can spend months in hospital, as her body is so frail. Willow's mother, Charlotte, faces financial difficulties in caring for her daughter. Special equipment and care all cost money, which she does not have. When at hospital one day, Charlotte is told by the doctors that she could sue her doctor for not informing her about Willow's medical condition during pregnancy and giving Charlotte the choice to have an abortion. Charlotte learns that the amount she could be awarded by the court would be able to set Willow up for life. However, the doctor that dealt with Charlotte throughout her pregnancy is her best friend. Charlotte faces a tough decision - does she put the life of her daughter or the childhood friendship that she values so much first. If Charlotte is to take to the stand in court and sue her best friend, she is also admitting to the world that she would have aborted her child if she had been given this option. Picoult really gets to the heart of the drama in this courtroom and family tale. (SG)

Nineteen Minutes (2007)

The novel begins on an ordinary school day at a local high school in North Hampshire. That is until student Peter Houghten, who has been bullied and teased at school for many years, enters the building with a gun and begins shooting the students. Alex Cormier, the judge sitting on the case, has a daughter, Josie, at the school where the shooting has taken place. In fact Josie is the best witness to the shooting. However she claims she cannot remember what happened. This story - one of Picoult's best to date - demonstrates the relationship between children and parents and how keeping things inside can result in disastrous decisions. (SG)

Vanishing Acts (2005)

Delia Hopkins has been led to believe that she has had a charmed life. Raised by her father, Andrew, in New Hampshire, she now has a young daughter, is engaged to be married and works with her best friend, Greta, a search and rescue dog, finding missing people. While she is planning the perfect wedding to Andrew, Delia experiences flashbacks which she cannot explain. Then one day a policeman shows up at her door and arrests her father for the kidnap of a girl. That girl is Delia. The story is told from several points of view and we learn of Delia's not-so-perfect childhood. Again there is the courtroom drama that Jodi Picoult writes so well. The novel is quite hard to get into but as soon as you get your head round the plot, it becomes an engrossing read. (SG)

My Sister's Keeper (2004)

The Fitzgeralds are a family with a very sick daughter - Kate has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. The parents immediately have their son tested but he is not a match for Kate. The doctor presents Sara and Brian Fitzgerald with another option, of creating a designer baby who would be the perfect match for Kate. After Anna is born and the cord blood is transfused to Kate, it appears that everything will be OK. The problem is that Anna is required to donate often during her childhood so much so that she sues her parents for the medical rights to her own body. Should Anna have the right to decide what she will contribute to Kate? Can her parents decide that she must donate her kidney? Jodi Picoult writes about controversial issues that aren't always easy to read about. It certainly isn't light reading matter but it keeps you engrossed until the end. It has been adapted into a movie starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin. (JG)

Perfect Match (2003)

Nine Frost is an assistant DA who prosecutes child molesters. On a daily basis, she gets frustrated when too many criminals slip through the system and walk free. One day when Nina comes home from work, she finds out that her son Nathaniel has been sexually abused. Nathaniel will not speak to anyone as a result. Knowing what she knows about the criminal justice system and how her son's abuser could walk free, Nina decides to take justice into her own hands. As with all Picoult's court drama novels, just when you think you have figured out what has happened, she delivers a twist. This story deals with the issue of how far a mother will go to protect her children. (SG)

Salem Falls (2001)

This follows the story of teacher Jack St Bride, who is wrongly accused of raping a girl. He has served a prison sentence and moves to Salem Falls. He finds work in a diner, working for a lady called Addie. Just as he is beginning to form a relationship with Addie, Jack is again accused of sexual assault. His defence attorney Jordan is brought in to make sure that he is not convicted of the same offence again. The story does tell of the sexual assault so is not to be read by anyone who may be disturbed by this topic. The book flits from past to present and the reader is left guessing whether Jack was actually innocent in the first place. I found myself reading this book under my desk at work, in my lunch break and did not put it down when I got home until I had finished. (SG)

Plain Truth (2000)

This book is based on the Amish community and their ways of life. One morning a newborn is found within an Amish barn. An eighteen-year-old girl, Katie, who lives on the farm, is thought to have hidden her pregnancy and given birth in secret. After a ruling in court, attorney Ellie, who has been brought in to defend Katie over the baby's death, has to live with the Amish community. The two cultures clash and Ellie must find a way to get through to Katie whilst living as a plain. Not only does Ellie have the Amish life to deal with and a murder trial to defend, she finds herself falling for a man from the past. The book keeps you guessing until the last minute and Picoult certainly delivers a shock at the end. The storyline in thought-provoking and Picoult has really done herself justice with the research done on the Amish community. (SG)

The Pact (1998)

This is a story about two families and their children who have been in love forever. The Hartes and the Golds have been neighbours for 18 years. They share everything - food, illnesses and car pool duty. The children, Emily and Chris, spend all their time together and inevitably fall in love with each other. The story begins when the pair are found at a carousel, Emily is dead and Chris unconscious. Chris insists that it was a suicide pact gone wrong and has to plead his innocence that he has not committed a murder. The book makes you question just how well you know your children and your parents. Jodi Picoult never fails to produce a good book. The book is both tearjerking and thought-provoking. The ending can feel a bit rushed but all in all it is an intriguing read. (SG)

Mercy (1996)

Maggie McDonald has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. The pain she lives with from day to day is excruciating. She makes a request of her husband, Jamie, to end her life. Once he agrees they go to the town of Wheelock, Massachusetts, to do the deed. Jamie then turns himself into his cousin, Cameron, the police chief and clan chief. Cam has to decide whether to charge Jamie with the crime. Many people take sides in this battle of should he or shouldn't he. Cam's wife, Allie, immediately decides to help Jamie with his defence and older relative Angus assists Jamie as well. This is another compelling story from Picoult - I especially liked the strong Scottish themes that run through the book. (JG)

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