Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

salem-fallsOnce a teacher at a girls’ prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student’s crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets – and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the women who has come to love him.

Salem Falls is easily one of my favorite Jodi Picoult book – one part romance, one part courtroom thriller, two parts social commentary, to quote The Dallas Morning News. This time she tackles Megan’s Law – law enforcement is required to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders – and how people are presumed guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around.

“When I was lying, they hung on every word. And when I told the truth, no one listened.” (pg. 290)

She also confronts how quickly people favoring the woman’s perspective of “what really happened,” and I think it was very admirable of her to show us what life might be like for someone who truly did not commit the crime.

“You had to pay your dues in jail. If you wanted a candy bar, it meant behaving well enough to be granted the commissary form. If you wanted the freedom of medium security, where you could wander through the common room during any hours except lockdown, you had to prove that you could conduct yourself well in maximum security. If you wanted to run in the courtyard, you had yo earn the privilege. Everything was a step, a reckoning, an inch given in the hopes of receiving one in return.” (pg. 202-203)

Picoult originally started out rewriting The Crucible by Arthur Miller, but instead wrote a novel that highlights how situations like the Salem Witch Trials can and do happen in modern days. As with most Picoult books, Salem Falls immediately catches your attention and holds it until the very end. Full of emotion, it’s one twist after other because those who are guilty aren’t and those who are, aren’t.

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print. 143 pgs. ISBN: 780142437339. Source: Library.
  • Picoult, Jodi. Salem Falls. New York: Washington Square, 2001. Print. 434 pgs. ISBN: 9780743418713. Source: Purchased.
Book Cover © Washington Square Press. Retrieved: February 12, 2009.

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