Defending Jacob was a page turner complete with lots of surprises. It was a thought-provoking book. A book that you will not be able to get out of your head. A book you will just have to discuss as soon as you turn that last page. This court room drama takes place in Massachusetts. Andy Barber is a well-respected assistant district attorney. He is a happily married man and has a son, Jacob. When a young boy in Jacob’s school is murdered the whole town is shaken. Who could have done such a thing? And then the unthinkable happens. Fourteen year old Jacob is accused of the crime. But…did he really do it? Defending Jacob was the perfect book club book and a must read! The Friday Morning Bookclub’s favorite book for 2012!
Second place goes to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Yes it is a tie! The State of Wonder takes place in the Amazon. Marina Singh works for a pharmaceutical company. When Dr. Anders Eckman, Marina’s colleague and friend is sent to check on the progress of a researcher in Manaus and dies mysteriously, Marina sets off to find out exactly what happened to him as well as what was going on with the study which involved the development of a miracle fertility drug. An engaging mystery which takes you into the depths of the Amazon.
The Story of Beautiful Girl is exciting from page one. The novel takes place in 1968. When Lynnie, a developmentally delayed white woman and Homan, an African-American deaf man from the South turn up one raining evening at Martha’s front door, she welcomes them into her home and offers them dry clothing and food. And then she notices the new born baby! Unfortunately before she even has time to serve the meal she had prepared, there is banging on her front porch and the authorities arrive to take Lynnie and Homan back to the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. “Hide her” is the last words Lynnie whispers in Martha’s ear as she is dragged from the house, leaving her baby behind. A beautiful, though provoking story and definitely a tear jerker!
A close third place goes to The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman. When Josef is introduced to his Grandson’s new wife’s Grandmother, he feels it right away. I know you from somewhere he tells her and she responds that he must be mistaken. And then he asks to push up her sleeve and sees the small birthmark and six numbers tattooed on her arm. “Lenka, it’s me,” he said. “Josef. Your husband”. This is a truly unforgettable book and a beautiful love story.
Fourth place is also a tie. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a wonderful mystery and Divergent by Veronica Roth, an exciting YA dystopian novel.
Thank you for voting and helping us choose our favorites. As always we welcome and appreciate hearing from you!.We hope you will continue reading with us in 2013!
Our book club met to discuss Defending Jacob the Friday before Mother’s Day, an interesting choice given the mother’s final decision regarding her son!
The book takes place in a small, supposedly family friendly enclave in New England. A 14-year-old boy is found murdered in the park and Andy Barber, the assistant district attorney is called to investigate the crime. He is also the narrator of the story. We learn about Andy’s dysfunctional family which includes a long history of violence through the paternal line. This impacts Andy so greatly that he denies the existence of his father ( who is in prison) and neglects to tell Laurie (his wife) and Jacob (their child) this part of his background. Would Laurie have married him if she had known? Did his denial of this genetic “murder gene” blind him to his son’s tendencies? The investigation finds that Andy’s son had been bullied by the murdered child. The children at Jacob’s school knew Jacob had issues…that kids and animals got hurt around him. Jacob’s mother had a sense that Jacob was different, but there were no therapeutic assessments/interventions for Jacob until he is charged with murder. The book is tightly written, documenting what happens in court and the family’s growing isolation from the neighbors and friends they had known since Jacob was a baby. There are some fascinating twists, and then a growing sense of horror as we learn, after the charges against Jacob have been dropped, that another child who Jacob has befriended has been killed. This is when the mother takes matters into her own hands.
This book raised many discussion points for us: the role of nature vs nurture, can genetics be overcome by diligent parenting? When are the parents absolved of responsibility for their child if they have tried to rear him in a morally responsible way? What causes some difficult children to mature past their maladaptive behaviors, and others not? Would you show support and caring to a fellow parent/friend whose child has been charged with a heinous crime? What happens when bullying behavior is known but not addressed by the adults in charge? How much of our teenagers lives do we really know?
While we might quibble over some not quite believable events ( would the dad really throw away the knife he found in Jacobs’ room….are these the behaviors of 14 year olds, or older children?), we found the book to be an engrossing read and an excellent discussion choice.
The Barber family; Andy, Laurie and 14 year old Jacob live in a quiet New England town. Andy is an assistant district attorney and is a respected member of his community. But when one of Jacob’s classmates is murdered and Jacob is charged with the crime their whole world is turned upside down. Could Jacob possibly be guilty of such a horrible crime? Defending Jacob is a mesmerizing book from the very first page and will keep you guessing up to the very end. Please join us in reading Defending Jacob.