“Back of Book” Summary:
For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other, sharing everything from Chinese food to chicken pox to carpool duty– they’ve grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other’s lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more. They’ve been soul mates since they were born.
So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There’s a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father’s cabinet– a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described.
Jodi Picoult is known for her original and suspenseful fiction about difficult and usually unsettling subjects. She wrote the book My Sister’s Keeper, which was made into a successful Hollywood movie several years ago- a movie that raised a lot of debates. The Pact was the first book by Picoult’s that I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last. I can’t say I particularly liked the story. It was horribly sad and heartbreaking. I hope never happens to any family. But this is the reaction Picoult wants us to have. The story was intense. The book was well written and kept my attention. It took me several days to read this book, there were times it became too intense that I needed to just walk away from it for awhile. Sometimes I want a light read, a beautiful or imaginative story. But sometimes this is what I want from a book. An intellectual challenge. An impact. Life isn’t always peachy keen. Bad things do happen to good people.
Emily and Chris make a suicide pact. This is hardly conceivable for most of us. Emily was in pain. She had terrible secrets, but never sought help. Help that would have been given to her. She thought the only way out was death. Chris wanted desperately to stop her, but instead enabled her. He loved her so much he would do anything for her, even help her kill herself even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to live without her. The story is about Chris in prison awaiting trial for almost a year, the trial itself, and the mental anguish of the two sets of parents whose relationships fall apart. We are given on bits and pieces of the story of Emily’s life through flashbacks. This makes for great impact on the reader. I felt I had to keep reading, I had to know more. And as much as I’ve heard that Jodi Picoult’s other books are just as brutal for the reader, I want to read them.