From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian

I have been reading books by Jodi PIcoult since 2000, the year “Plain Truth” came out. After quickly getting caught up in the story of a young Amish teen on trial for murdering her baby, I could hardly put it down. And the ending blew me away! I was hooked on this author with the unpronounceable last name (is it “pu-colt” or like the old ice cream place in town, “picco”?) I go with the first version.

Many readers—I know, because you’ve told me—absolutely hate her twisty plots. But I look at it this way: life often throws us curveballs and her works reflect that. Rarely do her books end with “and they lived happily ever after” but in reality, few people are that lucky. When “My Sister’s Keeper” was made into a movie, the studio heads changed the ending so viewers wouldn’t be upset. Those who had read the book first—the way one should—did not appreciate the “editing.” Presumably, those who hadn’t read the book were fine with it.

I challenge you to read one of her books and not come away having learned something new about a topic that you might not have thought about before or looking at it differently. Because no matter your opinion on a subject, Picoult tells a story that includes various angles and insights that often cause you to re-evaluate your own beliefs. For me, that makes for a very good book.

Which is not to say I like—or have even read—all of her books. “19 Minutes” is a well-written book on a school shooting but a parent with a child in high school might find it far too realistic (yet I thought it very enlightening). I also found “House Rules,” “Sing You Home,” “The Storyteller,” and “Small Great Things” to be pertinent reads. But I confess to wanting to throw “Leaving Time” across the room in frustration when I got to the end and the twist in “Wish You Were Here” bothered me enough that I nearly didn’t finish it (I did) .

I tend not to look at reviews of any Picoult books before reading—I want them to unfold with no preconceived notions about what’s coming next. All I knew about her latest, “Mad Honey” was a teen boy is accused of killing his girl friend. Oh, and the beekeeping angle. I do not want to give away any more details, but let me say it’s hands down the most compelling book I’ve read this year. Not only was it nearly impossible to put down, once I finished it, I had difficulty finding another book worthy enough to read after it. I’m sure not everyone will appreciate the subject matter—some reviews I read after finishing “Mad Honey” were blistering—but I learned so much about a topic I had never given much thought to and, more importantly, became more empathetic to people different than myself.

Whether I love or dislike her books—and I’ve done both—Jodi Picoult is an important voice in literature today. I appreciate her talent in bringing sometimes difficult social issues to the forefront and then showing all sides to a situation. If you’re looking for an edgy read, look no furthe