By: Jodi Picoult
Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler
I wanted a paperback to take with me on a flight. I’ve read a couple of Jodi Picoult’s novels and each challenged me to reconsider my way of thinking on a particular subject.
The Pact was no different.
It is the story of The Hartes and The Golds, two families who lived next door to each other in a picturesque New England town. For eighteen years, Melanie & Michael and Augusta & James raised their families side by side and sometimes jointly. Chris Harte and Emily Gold grew up together and both sets of parents were thrilled when they started dating. Visions of a wedding and beautiful grandchildren danced through their minds.
This all comes to an abrupt halt when, at seventeen, Emily suffers a gunshot wound to the head and dies. Chris was with her at the time and is the only one who can relay what happened on that fateful night in November 1997.
Initially Chris says it was a suicide pact; both he and Emily planned to kill themselves, but something went wrong. The evidence does not support his story and the police do not buy it. The district attorney charges Chris with first degree murder and he is arrested on his eighteenth birthday. A judge views the charge as a serious offense and Chris is denied bail. He is forced to wait in jail while his lawyer prepares a defense.
Picoult weaves a tale of injustice on many fronts. Presumed innocent until proven guilty does not seem to apply to Chris while awaiting trial. Opinion of the perfect student/athlete changes as gossip churns. There are two sides to every story and those who know the Hartes could not believe Chris would have killed Emily. That puts the burden of blame on the Golds. How well did they really know their daughter?
A tragedy can rally communities to pull together, or it can pull them apart.
And what about the idyllic teenage couple? Things aren’t always as blissful as they appear. Expectations can put a lot of pressure on young psyches.
Chapters alternate, giving the reader a glimpse into the world in which Chris and Emily lived and the present time. Past events, traumas, and childhood hurts are never truly forgotten. It can take victims a long time to heal, and sometimes they never fully do.
The Pact was written twenty years ago, but the storyline is pertinent in today’s social environment, possibly even more so than in the 1990s. The book can be found in the library with the fiction; FIC PIC and as a paperback; A-PAP PIC.
Life’s Golden Ticket
By: Brendon Burchard
Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler
I first read Life’s Golden Ticket over 10 years ago. When I saw it was the library’s book club monthly choice, I grabbed a copy with the intention of joining the discussion.
It is not as I remember. An unnamed narrator spends 40 days at an abandoned, magical amusement park. During that time, he meets various characters who ask him to question and review his life. I was hesitant to continue, skeptical if I would still enjoy the read. Times change, as do our lives and situations. I view the world from a different perspective than I did a decade ago. But I kept with it, knowing the story previously made an impression on me. Midway through the book, I knew why.
The narrator is asked to think about the work of the people he’s met during his time at the park. Many were performers, but their goal was not to entertain. “Each of them stands in the center ring, not to be under the spotlight or to feel the adoration of the audience, but to make a difference,” Henry, his guide states. “Their work is not about themselves.”
Henry continues, “Many of us live our lives desperately seeking to draw attention to ourselves. But there are a small number of people in this world who live their lives to make others smile. These are the miracle workers.” Those are the ones who embody the last lesson Henry gives his student. He instructs him to think of the people in his life, past and present. With a stern voice he questions, “Did you ever ask, ‘What did I give?’”
Life is a journey. Someone else’s journey may be greatly influenced by how we use our ticket. Caring enough to take action, that is the invitation. With it comes the golden ticket and the opportunity to pay it forward.
One of the lessons of the amusement park was to look at a situation through another’s eyes. I read Life’s Golden Ticket with the same set of eyes but different life experiences this time. Yet the message that still rang true to me is, “to make a difference.”
Just like no two journeys are the same, Life’s Golden Ticket may affect each reader differently. The book can be found in the fiction section of the library; FIC BUR.