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 come at 3:00 am 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 pre-dawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never really knew. (from back cover)
I think my love for Jodi Picoult and her novels should be apparent by now. I've read six of her books and absolutely adored every one of them. They are all adult novels, which even comes to a surprise to me, but often her characters are teenagers so it reads like YA. The Pact is no different.
What intrigues me the most about The Pact is the relationship between Chris and Emily. When I say that these two teens have known each other since birth, I am not exaggerating. Their families are next-door neighbors and Chris's mom even helped to deliver Emily. They grew up together in every sense of the word and all their parents were secretly rooting for them to get married one day. Everyone has read books of undying love between high school sweethearts, but this love was different. I can't imagine being in a relationship with someone who was like family and that you've known your entire life - I think it would be pretty cool but at the same time it could be a little stifling. Jodi Picoult wrote the relationship between Chris and Emily very well. They were like soulmates, but it wasn't cheesy or corny at all. The couple had their issues but their love and trust in one another just seemed so real.
That's why I love Jodi Picoult's novels. The characters, the situations, the dialogue, it all seems real to me. The characters are complex, they have their secrets, their insecurities, their own thoughts and feelings. Every character is totally different and reacts to each situation differently (and even if it's not how I would act, everything makes sense in context). The Pact was no exception, as Chris goes on trial to see whether he was the victim of botched double suicide or the prepretrator of the crime. Jodi Picoult is wonderful at going back in time and revealing little bits and pieces of information, first about the Hartes and the Golds and Chris and Emily's burgeoning relationship, and later about that fated night. You learn everything in increments and you can't put the book down because you have to see what happens next.
There is so much I would like to say about this novel, but I don't really want to give away any of the plot. It's another crime/court case drama, which I love, but a lot of it isn't even about the trial, but about Chris and Emily. I kind of guessed the ending, but it didn't take anything away from story, which is a sad one. Thinking about Chris living without Emily, his complete and utter soulmate, makes me kind of upset. With their relationship, I can't even imagine what I do. Luckily for me, Jodi Picoult has written a riveting novel about this kind of situation.
The Pact has everything that I would want in a book: love, mystery, secrets, complexity, tears, heartbreak, family. If you've never read a book by Jodi Picoult, I suggest that you read one immediately. They are extraordinary and will leave you thinking long after you've read the last page.
Rating: 10 out of 10!
FTC: borrowed from library.
1998/Harper Perennial/389 pages.