The Pact: A Love Story, by Jodi Picoult (New York: HarperCollins, 1998)
"From Jodi Picoult, one of the most powerful writers in contemporary fiction, comes a riveting, timely, heartbreaking, and terrifying novel of families in anguish -- and friendships ripped apart by inconceivable violence. Until the phone calls came at 3:00 A.M. on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, the Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone when their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was moving beyond that of lifelong friends. But now seventeen-year-old Emily has been shot to death by her beloved and devoted Chris as part of an apparent suicide pact -- leaving two devastated families stranded in the dark and dense predawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never really knew."
"There was nothing left to say."
Powerful? Heartbreaking? Devastating? More than a little hyperbolic, but I knew what I was getting into. I bought the book in a "buy 2, get 1 free" sale at one of the local book chains (back when we had more than one) a while back, and kept it in the bull pen till I needed it.
That time came a few weeks ago, before our long vacation -- I won't go into the gory details but it was a rough week emotionally, and I just plain needed some reasonably-absorbing escapist fiction. (Plus, maybe it's just me, but when I'm feeling like my own life's a mess, some melodramatic fiction is often just what the doctor ordered -- even at my worst, I can look at plot lines like this and reassure myself that at least I don't have it that bad.)
So The Pact fit the bill. It's obviously one of Picoult's earlier books, which is a mixed bag. On the minus side, it lacks some of the gentle ethical-dilemma-probing I've come to expect from House Rules, Handle With Care, and Vanishing Acts. However, a strong plus in my book is that she hadn't yet stumbled on her now-predictable twist ending formula (which some article I read a while back called "just kill a kid and get it over with") -- which, frankly, gets a bit tiresome after the 3rd or 4th book.
Not high literature, definitely a WYSIWYG book -- whether you think you'll enjoy it or not, you're probably right. Speaking only for myself, I'm in the "enjoy it, but in pretty small doses" camp.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.