Vanishing Acts

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Vanishing Acts  By Jodi PicoultVanishing Acts’ was the second book I read by Jodi Picoult, and although, in many ways I would have to say it was a good read, I have to admit feeling slightly disappointed by it!

In essence, this is a good story. The central character is Delia Hopkins who has lived the last twenty eight years with her father after the death of her mother. Or is that really the case? As the story unfolds, we discover that Delia’s father, Andrew, has been living a lie for the last twenty eight years – in fact a lie so serious that he is arrested and a trial ensues! When the truth starts to emerge, this is devastating for Delia who suddenly feels that she does not know who she is any more, nor does she know her father. Coming to terms with this, she goes through a huge emotional journey before eventually coming to some conclusions about her life and her relationship with her father. There is a good quote from the story on the front cover:

‘It takes two people to make a lie work – the person who tells it and the person who believes it.’

I was drawn to this as it felt quite profound and it is the essence of what this story is about.

There are other dimensions to the story as well. Delia is engaged to Eric, her childhood pal and father to her daughter Sophie. He is now her fiancé but is also a recovering alcoholic! Eric is also a lawyer, and it is to him Delia turns when looking for someone to defend her father. This puts an additional strain on their relationship as Delia often feels betrayed when Eric does not tell her things relating to the case, which he can’t due to client confidentiality!

Overall though, I have to say that the storyline is good and well paced and the characters are sympathetic.

Also on the sidelines is Fitz, childhood friend to both Eric and Delia; in fact they were an inseparable threesome for many years! He is also a local journalist who is charged with the task of covering the case, thus putting him in a terrible situation knowing that whatever he writes is going to cause upset for Delia! His emotions are further complicated as he knows that his feelings for Delia are more than those of a platonic friend.

As you can see there are many aspects to this story that Jodi Picoult generally weaves together well, heading towards the climax of the court case and Delia coming to terms with all that as happened and who she is.

There were however, some elements of how the story was written which I did not like, which is why it failed to engross me as much as I had hoped.

Firstly, the story is written from five different people’s points of view. Therefore, every time you come to a new chapter there is a different name at the top and you then know that this is that person’s account. As every chapter is written in the first person, I sometimes found myself getting lost and having to backtrack in order to work out who was telling the story at that time. Maybe, she could have changed the styles slightly depending on who was talking. I didn’t feel that this happened so it always seemed to be reading like the same person.

There was another aspect of the novel that I did not enjoy although I’m sure a lot of readers probably found it interesting. At one point Delia is befriended by Ruthann, who is a Native American and a member of the Hopi tribe. There are many deviations when Picoult explores a lot of the Hopi traditions and way of life. Although interesting, this was not essential to the story and I found myself wanting her to get back to the main thrust of the narrative. At other times, when the chapter was written by Andrew, there was a lot of explanation about prison life which again felt like a distraction. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion!

Overall though, I have to say that the storyline is good and well paced and the characters are sympathetic. You definitely feel for Delia and almost live her emotional journey with her. In both books I have read by Jodi Picoult I have found myself wondering what I would feel and what I would do in similar circumstances. I think she is very good at getting you to ask questions of yourself through her writing.

At the end of the book there is resolution. As you are reading towards the end, you realise that there’s no way it’s going to be a happy ending for all, but it does seem that things are mainly positive for all the main characters.

Overall, I probably would recommend this book, but with some reservations. Prepare to be sidetracked at times, and don’t attempt to read when you are very tired – it will only add to your confusion!

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Vanishing Acts
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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