Jodi Picoult, an award-winning American writer, has had 23 novels published since 1992. Her novels generally include mystery, crime, justice, romance, thrill, physical/mental illnesses and, most recently, racism and prejudice. I was introduced to Jodi Picoult when I was 13-years-old after I was given a second-hand paperback of Nineteen Minutes. Since then, she has been one of my favourite authors. In absolutely no particular order, here are my top 3 Jodi Picoult picks.
Salem Falls was published in 2001 by Pocket Books. It is Jodi Picoult’s eighth published novel.
Jack St. Bride 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 career and reputation. Now, after a devastatingly public ordeal that left him with an eight-month jail sentence and no job, Jack resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. He takes a job washing dishes at Addie Peabody’s diner and slowly starts to form a relationship with her in the quiet New England village of Salem Falls. But just when Jack thinks he has outrun his past, a quartet of teenage girls with a secret turn his world upside down once again, triggering a modern-day witch hunt in a town haunted by its own history…
I read Salem Falls when I was in high school. It was at a time when I was fascinated by pagan religions, so it should be no surprise that I truly enjoyed reading about the teenage characters who were experimenting with witchcraft. However, the real plot of this story is about Jack St. Bride, a teacher who was condemned twice for crimes he did not commit, specifically sexual misconduct. This is a true Jodi Picoult novel, combining romance, a serious crime, the courtroom, and interesting social commentary. It makes one wonder: are we truly innocent until proven guilty, or is it the other way around?
Nineteen Minutes was published in 2007 by Atria Books. It is Jodi Picoult’s fourteenth published novel.
As a midwife, Lacy Houghton brings lives into the world. She didn’t expect her son to take them away. But that’s what he did one March morning, when he walked into his high school with guns instead of books and killed ten people. Along with the rest of the shocked and grief-stricken town, Lacy is left wondering when her shy 17-year-old boy turned into a monster. And was it her fault? In the aftermath of the shooting, Lacy searches the past for clues and begins to realise that despite, or perhaps because of, her every effort, she never really knew her son at all…
As I said, Nineteen Minutes was my very first Jodi Picoult novel and, of course, the reason why Jodi Picoult became one of my favourite authors. I found it extremely difficult to put this book down. I was desperate for answers to some controversial questions, such as: is it okay for the victim to strike back? This story is about a mother whose son killed ten students at his school. A topic like this is not quite new in American news. Jodi Picoult tackled topics of bullying and high school and parenting in a brilliant, captivating manner. Since reading Nineteen Minutes, I have always thought twice about the way I treat people and how my actions could affect others.
House Rules was published in 2010 by Atria Books. It is Jodi Picoult’s seventeenth published novel.
Jacob’s behaviours are hallmark Asperger’s, – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel — and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?
I think that if I had to choose one Jodi Picoult novel, it would be House Rules. I have always been interested in forensic science. It is a career path I would have chosen if I didn’t care about making a great salary in the future. Jacob, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, is also interested in forensics. He often ends up at real crime scenes telling the police how to do their jobs (and he’s usually right). When a murder takes place, all signs point to Jacob. When reading House Rules, one can learn a lot about caring for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Jodi Picoult’s brilliant and extensive research shines through this novel. I have read reviews by mothers who have children with Asperger’s Syndrome, and it was interesting to know that it touched many of them on a personal level.
I can recommend many more books, as I adore more than only these top 3 Jodi Picoult picks, but these ones are my absolute favourites. Having said that, there are a few novels of hers that I couldn’t get into. Sadly, her latest novel, Small Great Things, is one of them. After having it for two years and two attempts at reading it, I have given up. However, I am hoping for a new novel very soon to write my thoughts about!