Monday, May 22, 2006

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

I read this one really fast, but with much less enthusiasm and wonder than with My Sister’s Keeper. It’s about the Stone family in Maine: father Daniel is a stay-at-home dad who pens graphic novels, mother Laura is a college professor who specializes in Dante’s Inferno, and 14-year-old daughter Trixie is nursing a broken heart after her popular, older boyfriend Jason breaks up with her. We learn early on that Laura is cheating in her husband with a student, Daniel has a dark, violent past, and Trixie isn’t as sweet and innocent as her parents think she is. Everthing is up-ended when Trixie is raped by Jason at a party. The party also involves a lot of shock-value teen sex-play—the kind of stuff that may or may not actually be happening—“rainbow” and “daisy chain”—which felt like an of-the-moment, Oprah-session type of choice. The town blames Trixie and her family, because Jason is a beloved hockey star. While this isn’t as devastating as Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulvaneys, a novel in which a raped girl finds her family and the entire world turned against her (I wanted to throw this bleak, bleak book out the window), it’s also not as powerful. There are some graphic novel sections in here, which are fun if a little hokey. If you want to see what Picoult can do, read My Sister’s Keeper.

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