The Pact, by Jodi Picoult

Cover ImageFinished 8-16-10, rating 3.5/5, fiction. pub. 1998

There was nothing left to say.  He covered her body with his, and as she put her arms around him she could picture him in all his incarnations: age five, and still blond: age eleven, sprouting: age thirteen, with the hands of a man.  The moon rolled, sloe-eyed in the night sky; and she breathed in the scent of his skin. “I love you,” she said. 

He kissed her so gently she wondered if she had imagined  it.  She pulled back slightly, to look into his eyes.

And then there was a shot.

Opening of book

Right from the beginning we know that Emily is dead and her boyfriend Chris is not.  At the hospital Chris tells the police that they had made a suicide pact and he had chickened out in the end.  Only the police don’t believe him.  Chris and Emily’s parents are next door neighbors and long-time best friends, so this tragedy is compounded by the close relationship the two families share.  What really happened that night and can they all get past it?

Chris is the popular high school jock who is unprepared for the storm of accusations coming his way.  He is not used to being doubted.  His parents, Gus and James, don’t know how to deal with Chris, their daughter, or each other.  While Gus hovers around Chris protecting him, James expects things to get back to normal ASAP and refuses to really acknowledge what’s happened.

Emily was an only child, so her death at 17 hit her parents especially hard.  Melanie entered the grieving stage with anger and she never really got past it.  Michael wanted to do the right thing by his daughter and Chris, but he didn’t know what that was.

I’ve only read a few Picoult novels, but I’ve enjoyed them.  There is always a twist in the end, but this one wasn’t really much of a shock. Compelling, yes, shocking, no.  This was a story about teen suicide, love, and friendship.  I thought the impact of the death on the friendships was the most successful and honest part of the book.  It was the teen suicide and love storylines that didn’t work as well for me.  It did suck me in and I was very much involved, but some of it fell flat because it just didn’t make sense.  I know that suicide rarely makes sense to the living, so maybe that is unfair, but it’s how I felt nonetheless.

I usually love the shades of gray in Picoult’s novels, but this one was more black and white.  And the very end disappointed me.  Still it made me think and is a great book for discussion.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Sharyn, Em, Colleen, Sheral, and Margie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Love her books.”  Sheral

“Jodi Picoult’s stories are always very compelling and this is no exception.”  Colleen

“It got me hooked on her, couldn’t put it down.”  Em

31 thoughts on “The Pact, by Jodi Picoult

  1. This was the first book of her’s that I read and I loved it. I loved that it made you think and question relationships. It’s amazing how one event affects so many people’s lives.

    1. If this had been my first Picoult book I would have been hooked as well. She does know how to make you think and can entertain at the same time.

  2. I have read 8 of her books. Picoult writes about issues which are not very comfortable for most to read. I have not read this one. The Sister’s Keeper is her most popular book but my personal favorite is Salem Falls. DO check it out, if you have not read it.

    1. I haven’t read Salem Falls, so I’ll add it to my list. I liked My Sister’s Keeper, even if it did make me shed a tear or two!

  3. I did not enjoy this one. I enjoyed the concept and style of the chapters etc but the ending I was so annoyed I decided I will try one more by JodiP before giving up and that will be 19 minutes, I hear it is her best from trusted friends that have similar interest as mine.

    I didn’t consider this one a Love story though, definitely not in Emily’s eyes.

    1. Well, Chris did everything in the book because he loved Emily. It was his motivation, so that’s why I said it was a story about love, faulty or not, and not a love story. Although that is the subtitle.
      I was very annoyed at the end too, there was no real justification or explanation for why she chose to end it that way, just disappointment for me.
      I haven’t read 19 Minutes but I’ve heard it’s good.

  4. I’ve been hearing so many great things about her books, but still have yet to pick one up. I really, really didn’t like the My Sister’s Keeper plot twist…so I really don’t know if I’ll enjoy her or not. Someone told me, though, that Nineteen Minutes is a must read…so I’ll be giving that one a try.

    Great review! But I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up from the sounds of it.

  5. I love reading others thoughts on books I’ve read. Especially because this was one of my favorites by Picoult for a long time. I’ve read all of her books except her newest. Just haven’t gotten to it yet, but I will.

    1. I think it would be a good read for parents of teens for sure. It’s not something people really want to talk about.

  6. I had to come back because I am so interested in what others had to say.

    BTW – On the cover it says ‘A Love Story’ I wasn’t questioning what you wrote. I full agree with you.

  7. This one didn’t really work for me. I’ve read a bunch of her books but this one could have been way better I thought. And I have a review of her book “House Rules” coming up and I talk about her “formula” which always involve these “twist” endings. It is starting to get on my nerves.

    1. I do agree that it could have been much better. Of the three things I thought the book was about only one worked for me. That being said it was still better than most of the books out there!

    1. You do have to try one. I haven’t read enough to recommend one, but it seems quite a few people like 19 Minutes. And I did get caught up in My Sister’s Keeper, but if you know the twist it might be ruined.

  8. It’s an amazing book , with a great twist. I like how she takes you back and forth, it makes you want to keep reading to finally found out what is the true events of that tragic night. I would read it again and recommended it for anyone who love twists and cliff hangers in their books.

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