Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

vanishing-acts1Delia Hopkins has lead a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her beloved, widowed father, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiance, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall until a policeman knocks on her door, revealing a secret about herself that changes the world as she knows it — and threatens to jeopardize her future.

Picoult knows how to weave a story, how to keep me guessing about her characters’ motives and feelings. I love how detail oriented she is; you can tell she’s done her research on whatever the topic is: Native American folktales, prison life, journalism, etc. However, this one had too much detail. I felt like the character of Ruthann, Delia’s neighbor in Arizona, was entirely unnecessary, and her Native American culture was both boring and distracting from the overall story. And the switch from Andrew/Charles talking to his daughter in his narrative of the story to just a plain, third-person narrative also annoyed me. I like how he spoke to Delia, how he spoke to the reader, so this stylistic change was not something I agreed with.

“Does it really matter why I did it? By now you’ve already formed your own impression. You believe that an act committed a lifetime ago defines a man, or you believe that a person’s past has nothing to do with his future. You think I am either a hero, or a monster. Maybe knowing more about the circumstances will make you think differently about me, but it won’t change what happened twenty-eight years ago.” (pg. 52)

I’ve never noticed similar her novels are as other book bloggers and friends have notice — Melissa, a friend who introduced me to Picoult’s books, now refuses to read any more of her novels because she believes every single on has the same story, characters, and style — until I read this book. Vanishing Acts is remarkably similar in structure and characterization to My Sister’s Keeper. The story pivots on a single character who is rarely seen but whose weakness is jeopardizes the relationships and lives of an entire group of characters. There are overly wise children. Vanishing Acts does, however, retain the charm of Picoult’s novels, and contains little gems of knowledge that resonated with me and messed perfectly with the story.

“Sometimes, when you don’t ask questions, it’s not because you are afraid that someone will lie to your face. It’s because you’re afraid they’ll tell you the truth.” (pg. 83)

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Picoult, Jodi. Vanishing Acts. New York: Washington Square, 2005. Print. 415 pgs. ISBN: 9780743454551. Source: PaperBackSwap.
Book Cover © Washington Square Press. Retrieved: March 22, 2009.


  1. Myrthe

    I like how you didn’t like Ruthann (if that makes sense), because I found her one of the most alive and interesting characters who ‘spiced up’ the story for me.


  2. I agree that Picoult weaves a story very well, and I also agree that her books don’t vary that much. After reading a handful of her books, I stopped picking up new titles by her.


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