Sunday, July 3, 2011

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

An intricate tale of love, haunting memories, and renewal, Second Glance begins in current-day Vermont, where an old man puts a piece of land up for sale and unintentionally raises protest from the local Abenaki Indian tribe, who insist it's a burial ground. When odd, supernatural events plague the town of Comtosook, a ghost hunter is hired by the developer to help convince the residents that there's nothing spiritual about the property. Enter Ross Wakeman, a suicidal drifter who has put himself in mortal danger time and again. He's driven his car off a bridge into a lake. He's been mugged in New York City and struck by lightning in a calm country field. Yet despite his best efforts, life clings to him and pulls him ever deeper into the empty existence he cannot bear since his fiancee's death in a car crash eight years ago. Ross now lives only for the moment he might once again encounter the woman he loves.

But in Comtosook, the only discovery Ross can lay claim to is that of Lia Beaumont, a skittish, mysterious woman who, like Ross, is on a search for something beyond the boundary separating life and death. Thus begins Jodi Picoult's enthralling and ultimately astonishing story of love, fate, and a crime of passion. Hailed by critics as a "master" storyteller (Washington Post), Picoult once again "pushes herself, and consequently the reader, to think about the unthinkable" (Denver Post).

Second Glance, her eeriest and most engrossing work yet, delves into a virtually unknown chapter of American history -- Vermont's eugenics project of the 1920s and 30s -- to provide a compelling study of the things that come back to haunt us -- literally and figuratively. Do we love across time, or in spite of it? (from GoodReads)

Jodi Picoult once again amazes me with her writing and plotting prowess in Second Glance. Unlike most of her other novels, Second Glance does not feature a court case or trial, instead focuses on a decades old mystery that features ghosts. I love mysteries, ghost stories, and historical fiction (the second part of Second Glance is historical fiction) so Second Glance is pretty much the book for me.

What I didn't like about Second Glance was the beginning was quite confusing. In a short span of pages, a lot of new characters are introduced and since it keeps switching point-of-view, I really had to keep track of what was going on. But as the story progesses, I figured out who everyone was and loved seeing the characters interact and weave together because they are all inter-related in some way.

The ghost story aspect was awesome; it was spooky and creepy but was more than just horror. It felt like it could be real. The ghost story ties into the mystery and Jodi Picoult takes us back in time to the 1930's and we get to see the basis for everything that is happening in present day. I was not expecting this blast to the past but felt it added a lot to the novel and made it so much more interesting. The historical fiction part focuses on Vermont's eugenics and sterilization program that I never knew existed. I liked learning about a little known fact of history and thought that Jodi Picoult deftly brought attention to an important, yet little known, subject.

Though there were many characters, it was easy to understand them all and watch them develop throughout the novel. I sympathized with all of them and was glad to see some of them find happiness in the end.

Second Glance is a bit of a departure from Jodi Picoult's usual formula but it works and makes the novel a lot more interesting. If you like ghosts, love, mystery and history I would definitely suggest Second Glance as the book to read.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2003/Atria Books/432 pages.

1 comment:

Italia said...

This book was a step away from the everyday Jodi Picoult book, as she delves out of the realms of fiction and into a story which is centered around the supernatural. She intertwines the lives of numerous characters even connecting their fates through time.
In this novel, Ross Wakeman, grieving over his dead wife, struggles between his attempts in suicide and his relentless persistence in looking for an afterlife through his hunt for ghosts. After many disappointments, he stumbles upon a mysterious woman named Lia, who he falls in love with despite himself. After a shocking discovery that Lia had in fact died years ago, he delves into Lia's mysterious past. As he progresses further into Lia's haunted past, he relives her time of discrimination and prejudice, as she is suppressed by her controlling and prejudiced husband who attempts to deal with her suicidal depression, unaware of her Abenaki heritage. Ross proceeds to solve the mystery of Cecelia's murder and her child's death.