The Pact

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Pact by Jodi Picoult The Pact’ is easily the best novel that I have read by Jodi Picoult so far. It tells the story of the Hartes and Golds, two families who at the start of the book seem to have it all! They have lived next door to each other for the past eighteen years; their children have grown up together and now Chris and Emily, both seventeen, seem to be a golden couple! Everything is as good as it possibly could be until everything changes one November night.

Both sets of parents are called to the emergency department at the local hospital where they discover there has been a shooting incident. Emily Gold is dead and Chris Harte injured, apparently as a result of a suicide pact which Emily carried through but Chris couldn’t. Both families are torn apart by grief especially when the police, thinking that the events don’t add up, arrest Chris and charge him with Emily’s murder. The rest of the story takes us through the falling apart of the parents as each try to deal with the tragedy in their own way, Chris’s time in jail awaiting trial, and then the subsequent trial itself culminating in the verdict! I won’t say too much more of the events as that could spoil any potential reads.

What I will say is that I found this a totally gripping read right from the first page. The book is very cleverly written so that you only piece together what actually happened right at the end of the book. The book is structured in such a way that alternate chapters deal with either ‘now’ or ‘then’. The first chapter deals with finding out about Emily’s death but the next chapter takes us right the way back to when the Hartes and Golds moved into their houses and Chris and Emily were born. I found this worked really well for me as a reader, because it kept me interested in everything that was happening as a consequence of the pact, whilst enabling me to find out more about the key characters.

There are in fact six main characters in the book, one of whom is Emily and of course she is dead. However in the ‘then’ chapters we find out a lot about her and the events in her life that might have led her to feel that suicide was the only option. Then there is Chris who loved Emily more than anyone else. There’s was an almost exclusive relationship almost to the point of being unhealthy. Where Chris becomes particularly interesting is when he is placed in jail awaiting trial. The scenes within the jail are described particularly well, and we sympathise with a (now) eighteen year old boy suddenly having to grow up very fast whilst grieving for the girl he loved.

The other main characters are the parents – Michael and Melanie Gold and Augusta (Gus) and James Harte. Once these couples were inseparable, especially the two women, but Emily’s death put an end to all that. Melanie cannot believe that Emily would take her own life and therefore Chris must have killed her, whereas Gus is utterly protective of her son, refusing for one minute to believe in his guilt. Therefore it is impossible for the two women to provide solace for each, when once they would each have been the first one the other would have turned to, other so both end up isolated without a friend to turn to. The two fathers don’t fare any better – Michael is racked with guilt because he didn’t notice that Emily was in trouble, but at the same time, knows in his heart that Chris loved his daughter too much to murder her. James has a lot of trouble dealing with what has happened, and takes an almost ostrich like approach refusing to talk about and confront what has happened. All of these characters are absorbing, and as you read you can’t help feeling that the biggest tragedy is how all these lives have been torn apart and instead of mutually supporting each other, they are now four lonely people!

The courtroom scenes at the end of the book depicting the trial are riveting. There is a little light diversion in the form of Chris’s defence lawyer, Jordon McAfee and his somewhat disastrous love life. Mainly though you feel you are witness to an intriguing case and burning to know what happened which as I said earlier you only find out right at the end. As I was reading the book, I kept trying to predict what might have happened and then changing my mind as other small details were dropped in – it really is that sort of book!

When I finished the book, and I did read the last third in one go, I actually felt emotionally exhausted. I think it is the mark of a good book if it can reduce you to tears which this one certainly did to me! On the back of the book there is a quote from the Daily Mail which states ‘you will find this novel impossible to put down!’ well, sadly, with all my commitments including two children to look after, I did have to put it down, but it was always reluctantly and if I could have just carried on reading I would have done, so to me, this really was an outstanding book!

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by Jodi Picoult

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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