Sunday, July 06, 2008

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

To the outside world, they seem to have it all. Cassie Barrett, a renowned anthropologist, and Alex Rivers, one of Hollywood's hottest actors, met on the set of a motion picture in Africa. They shared childhood tales, toasted the future, and declared their love in a fairy-tale wedding. But when they return to California, something alters the picture of their perfect marriage. A frightening pattern is taking shape-a cycle of hurt, denial, and promises, thinly veiled by glamor. Torn between fear and something that resembles love, Cassie wrestles with questions she never dreamed she would face: How can she leave? Then again, how can she stay?

I don't know what it is about Jodi Picoult. Her writing is compelling. After discovering her you always want to read more. Even if you come across one of her books that you really don't like, you still want to read her others. BUT it seems like the books you read subsequently never measure up to the first one (for me that was Plain Truth). At this point I have read the majority of her novels, but my first exposure to Picoult remains my favorite of her books.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Picoult writes what I call "issue fiction". Her books can sometimes be unbearably depressing. Despite the issue of this book being one that I find particularly difficult to handle (and the death of the childhood best friend hitting a bit too close to home), Picture Perfect isn't one of her more depressing books. The characters are all pretty well-drawn and believable (even Ophelia is realistic in her self-absorption). For most of the main characters there is redemption. The ending is more realistic than those of some of Picoult's other books (and more hard-won). Picoult incorporates other cultures into the narrative (as she does with some of the other novels) with success, I think.

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