Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult

Barnes & Noble

Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She's also the light of her father, Daniel's life -- a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high school; a girl who's always seen her father as a hero. That is, until her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence. Suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family -- and herself -- seems to be a lie. Could the boyfriend who once made Trixie wild with happiness have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a seemingly mild-mannered comic book artist with a secret tumultuous past he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back to protect his daughter.

***Trigger warning: this review contains information about sexual assault that may be upsetting to survivors***

I love Jodi Picoult, but I don't always love her books. The Tenth Circle started out strong, so I was surprised that many of my friends gave it only one or two stars in their reviews.

There were a handful of small things that irked me.  Locks of Love, for example, does not make wigs for children with Cancer. They make them for children with Alopecia. It's a common misconception, and one that is easily verified on their website.  The fact that it's wrong in the book is just sloppy research.

But even so, it was still a good book.  I kept thinking that this was such an important book. In the wake of Steubenville and the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, we need authors who aren't afraid to write about (date) rape.  Who can portray how harrowing it is to return to some semblance of normal.  Who are honest about the pain that it causes for not only the survivor, but her friends and family.

And then I came to the end.  And I figured out why my friends didn't like it.

Spoilers after the jump.

I get the point that Picoult was trying to make: that even if you don't verbally say "No," it's still rape if you don't consent. The execution, however, was so poorly done that I ended up nearly hurling my iPod across the room.  Because, really?  The last thing we need is a character in a book who lies about the events just prior to her rape.  If one thing gets fudged?  Fine.  Trixie is only 14 years old, so I can cut her some slack.  But I lost sympathy after she lied over and over and over.

There is one part I don't get: when Seth told Laura about the drugs, why didn't she do anything with the information?  At least confront your daughter with what you discovered!  Sheesh.  Your child is buying drugs and you don't do anything about it.  Awesome parenting.  Really.

The are two reasons I'm giving this book three stars instead of two: 1) I really did enjoy 90% of it; and 2) it has clearly gotten to me.

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