I could hardly put it out of my mind after the first sentence, and probably for a lot of time after the last one. I loved the way Jodi Picoult gets inside the minds of the characters, without judging them. I also loved the way the book is structured: starting with the incident and then, like a movie, alternating between moments of time before and after. These clear-cut scenes are interspersed with short insights from Peter, which carry the most emotional charge (To anyone who cares…). If you are like me and find it hard to remember the characters’ names initially, you might find this exposition technique somewhat confusing, but I bet you’ll appreciate it in the end.
Overall this is one of the best novels I’ve read. I’m definitely going to look for more books by the author. If I could change one thing about this one though, I would cut in half the amount of text dedicated to the courtroom.
Some ideas that this book touches upon:
- High school, like any society, is divided into two categories of people: the cool and popular (unhappy because they have to wear a mask all the time), and the uncool and unpopular (unhappy because they are lonely etc.)
- Some people see suicide as an extreme communication device.
- Life/society/school/democracy sucks, but it’s the best thing we’ve got so far.
- When we’re sitting in front of the TV, we appreciate the fact that the media is able to keep us informed, but we rarely think of how the same media intrudes in the lives of those we see on the screen.
- The fear of losing control; the desire to live within predictability, and what happens when that balance is lost.
- What happens when someone we love does something we would never have expected (Peter — Lacy and Lewis; Josie — Alex).
- There is no clearly-defined line between childhood and adulthood, yet the rights we give a person and the way we judge them are a function of biological age.
- How the same thing carries different meanings to different people.
- Do you still want the truth if it hurts?
- Nothing we do is guaranteed to be good or bad in the long run.
- Ultimately, revenge doesn’t change anything.
- Life goes on. The human capacity to get over things is sometimes astounding.