Book Reviews

Book Review: Salem Falls

So here it is. Another book by Jodi Picoult. Salem Falls was published in 2001. The story is about Jack St Bride who is was a teacher. The book begins with Jack being released from jail after being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting one of his students. Of course, despite being released, he now has to register himself as a sex offender. Jack decides to leave his past life and start fresh. He wanders into the town of Salem Falls in New Hampshire. Jack befriends Addie Peabody who owns a diner in the town and washes dishes at her diner. He slowly starts a relationship with Addie. However, the rest of the townsfolk remain suspicious of Jack. He is after all, a stranger. Who tends to keep to himself.
Jack thinks he is beginning to move on with his life. But then, a group of teenage girls turn his life upside down. Since Jack had been wary of teenage girls since his first encounter, he has avoided advances by one of the girls in this group. Only to result in his downfall. Again. One of the girls who was rebuffed, Gillian Duncan, claims that Jack raped her one night in the woods while her 3 friends were present. Jack unfortunately, cannot remember much from that night but maintains his innocence. It doesn’t help that his own lawyer does not believe him. At first. Being a small town, Jack and Addie are subject to abuse. The girls get all the sympathy. But their stories don’t always match.
Does Addie stick with Jack during his trial? Or will it bring back memories that she has tried hard to forget?
Will Jack be convicted all over again?
And what about Gillian Duncan? Will she get away with her lies?
And why does Gillian do this? What deep and dark secrets is she hiding?
The ending will shock you.
The book questions the issue of ‘innocent until proven guilty‘ because for anyone who has been convicted of a sexual offence, it works the other way round: They are assumed guilty until proven innocent.
Picoult also looks at how some women can easily manipulate the system; a bold move in my opinion. The thing is, I’ve seen this for real. I’ve seen manipulative women/teens. And I feel for the innocent men out there that fall into their trap. I’ve seen teenage girls randomly refer to a male teacher who has been too strict as a ‘paedo’ just as an insult! If someone hears it and takes it seriously, what are the consequences for the bloke??
Finally, she looks at people and society in general. How we judge people based on their past. How we judge people based on a few things. And how there are very few of us that may be willing to give an underdog a go.
It is not as emotionally draining as some of Picoult’s other books. And it is a thrilling ride.

My rating:

Until next time,
***This has been cross-posted at Bond with Books***

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  • Titaxy
    30 December 2009 at 7:17 pm

    interesting…i need to get my hands on more of Jodi’s book given that I enjoyed the first one I read… πŸ™‚

  • Psych Babbler
    30 December 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I have the whole set. Move down here and you can just borrow them πŸ˜‰ I started off with My Sister’s Keeper as well…loved it and then went on to her other books. She hasn’t disappointed me. One or two weren’t that great but majority of them have been awesome. I’m waiting for her next book due in 2010…about a boy with Asperger’s funnily enough.

  • Nu
    31 December 2009 at 7:23 am

    Same here.. I’m liking all the reviews…I need to get hold of her books now πŸ™‚

    Hey the ‘female manipulative’ reminds of a Hindi movie called AITRAZ [akshay kumar,kareena kapoor and priyanka chopra] It’s says the same thing…males are automatically held responsible and guilty until proven innocent !

    It’s our society’s norm…a woman can’t rape / assault / attempt a man !! Notions…

  • BlueMist
    31 December 2009 at 9:39 am

    I think I will like this one. I am really not much fond her other sad books; but this one looks different. πŸ™‚
    the topic is quite bold and off beat. I like.

  • Smitha
    14 January 2010 at 3:13 pm

    This was the first Jodi Picoult I read and I was hooked. Even if I did not entirely agree with stories or the character – I am fascinated by the way she handles so many controversial topics. I had loved this one, to be honest. I have to get her latest – have not been able to lay my hands on it yet.

  • Psych Babbler
    16 January 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Yeah, I love her take on some of the issues around us…some known, others relatively unknown. Her last book ‘Handle with Care’ was good but had a lot of shades of ‘My Sister’s Keeper’. I’m waiting for her next book that’s due out this year…it’s about a boy with Asperger’s. It’s supposed to come out in March 2010…so keep an eye out for it πŸ™‚

  • Psych Babbler
    16 January 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Hehe…yeah Misty, this is definitely not a sad book and more like a thriller….

  • monikamanchanda
    18 January 2010 at 5:56 am

    i just finished reading this one and it was the 2nd book from Judi I read… my sisters keeper was surely better than this one but I loved the way she handled this book too..

    the end actually didnt surprise me much from the moment of the DNA discussion I knew it had to be this…

    but somehow I dont agree with u when u say its not as emotionally draining but may be its for me because I no someone has been sexually assaulted so thoughts just kept coming back to me

    my only problem with the book was it felt she was trying to handle too many things in this one…

    PS: might link u up in my page hope u dont mind

  • Smitha
    18 January 2010 at 11:07 am

    I have not read Handle with care. I think after a point, most writers do tend to become repetitive. Especially when the handle similar issues. Will pick up Handle with Care next.

  • Psych Babbler
    18 January 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I think I didn’t find it so emotionally draining because it felt more like a thriller/suspense thing (despite the alleged sexual assault) more than emotional drama like My Sister’s Keeper or Picture Perfect. And of course, we don’t mind you linking us up to your page! πŸ™‚