I know she’s better than this. Ms. Picoult is an excellent writer. She does good dialogue, her characters are generally consistent, the little kids are really good little kids. In each case where I have begun reading a book of hers, I have stayed up way past my bedtime finishing it. (In the case of Vanishing Acts, I was already up thoroughly late because I was introducing my friend Teacher to Firefly and I didn’t want to let her leave until she totally liked it and had stopped saying snide things about Kaylee. Victory!) So I will not suggest that she is a bad writer, at all.
Here’s the thing. Sister loves her some dramatic irony. And, um, also just some irony. Also just some drama. She is much with the drama and the irony and the dramatic irony. It detracts from her books. I mean, I didn’t even think it was possible to use the adjective “silly” to describe a book all about child sex abuse, but I can’t use any other adjective to describe Perfect Match. I don’t even know where to begin spoiling it. I mean, there’s the part where Nina shoots the priest in court and then acts crazy; there’s the part where it turns out that not he but a similarly-named priest from Loosiana (of course) who happens to be the dead priest’s half-brother who donated bone marrow to him to cure him of leukemia. I mean, because why not? And then there’s the part where the husband, who’s spent the whole book being all judgey-judge, secretly flies down to Loosiana and poisons the real perpetrator with antifreeze. Oh, and the requisite guy in love with the female protagonist, hovering sadly in the wings.
It’s a shame, you know? I feel like Jodi Picoult could write much better books than she is actually writing – though I suppose she’s feeling if it’s not broke don’t fix it. (That expression never fails to make me think of that moment in the Disney Beauty and the Beast where Cogsworth and Lumiere are showing Belle around the castle and he’s talking about the baroque tapestries and he says “And as I always saaaay, if it’s not baroque – don’t fix it!” Anyone else? Anyone?) It’s not the writing, it’s the plots. She can’t resist high drama, and she can’t resist crazy plot twists, and it detracts from her books. Making them into guilty pleasure type books, when I really think they could be a lot more.
Which of course isn’t stopping me from being on my massive Jodi Picoult kick, so I’m just off to read Nineteen Minutes now. I am sure I will feel much the same about that one.