Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jodi Picoult

What can you say about a best selling, wildly popular writer, especially in criticism of her works?

Jodi Picoult reminds me of those weekly movies that were produced by Hallmark or Lifetimes in the 1970/80s. Each of her novels seems to focus on the disease/family problems that are buzz word topics. Don’t get me wrong. I have read her works - in fact more than one of her books. But I don’t care to read depressing books or books that will probably make me cry. That is one reason I don’t read many of Oprah’s book club suggestions any more.

To tell the truth I had been avoiding this author. She is not on my "must read" list. I picked up her latest book because of the subject matter. House Rules, which reached #1 on the New York Times best sellers list this week, deals with a particular form of autism. The story focuses on an Asperger teen who gets charged for murder. For those who are unfamiliar with this syndrome it is "a developmental disorder that affects a persons ability to understand other people and socially interact with them. People with AS, while having trouble making eye contact, are unable to read and respond to social cues and body language..."

As a mystery this book fails - I was able to figure out who-dun-it very quickly. As an introduction to how people judge others, especially those who do not look different, just act different, this novel works. One of the problems I did have with the novel is the cover itself. It shows a young boy where the main character in the novel is a teen. But like we are taught we shouldn’t judge a book (or a person) by the cover. For another view of this illness, try this biography of an Asperger person, Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robinson.

Another of Picoult’s books that I have read was My Sister’s Keeper. Between the movie and the novel, it was very hard to avoid this book in the last year or so. The story of a girl who is born to be a harvest body for her ill sister. In this novel, Picoult touches on two topical issues: organ donation/cell donation and dying children. I will never understand why movies change wonderful books, but completely changing the ending for this one truly baffles me. How can a person who cries at commercials (me) not get teary eyed for all the family involved in this sob story.

Another book (and movie) The Tenth Circle, also looks at a family under pressure. It shows the period of time when a child realizes that her parents are not gods – perfect in all their actions. The illustrations within this novel were interesting due to the fact the father is a graphic novelist working on the theme of Dante’s Inferno. Did Picoult realize that there was a video game in the making for this book? I wonder!

Judge for yourself whether Picoult is a wonderful writer or just a master manipulator of emotions.

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