Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Tenth Circle

<>One of the perks of being done with my long term substitute job is that I have reclaimed my time for reading. Since Trina's return, I have had the pleasure of enjoying several new novels and I realized that a couple people that read this blog are also big readers of novels, so I figured I would post some reviews about the books I am reading. Of course, I am no expert like the writers for PEOPLE (right Sandy??) or the NY Times, but I can at least offer my two cents. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult This is the third book by Jodi Picoult that I have read and I will admit that she has me hooked. I will write a little something about the previous two books I have read by her at a later time, but I just finished The Tenth Circle over the weekend. A relatively short novel, I started it on Friday and had it finished on Sunday afternoon. It is a novel based on family and the relationship between parent and child. A seemingly "normal" family is shaken to the core when the teenage daughter, Trixie, accuses her ex-boyfriend of rape. This act of violence brings to the surface several secrets that have been deeply embedded in the family's past and, in the end, begs the question of how far we are willing to go to protect our children. My favorite thing about this novel was how Picoult based it on Dante's Inferno. The mother, Laura, is a Dante scholar and teaches a class on the Inferno at the local university and the father, Daniel, is a comic book artist who is writing his first solo graphic novel called "The Tenth Circle" about a father who decends through the nine circles of Hell in search of his kidnapped daughter. The obvious allegory that Picoult makes is how this family must drag themselves through their own circles of Hell as they deal with the reprecutions of their daughter's rape and their own pasts. As a special treat, the pages of Daniel's graphic novel are included in the book, a feature that grabbed my husband's attention and had him paging through the book to read. In the previous novels I have read by Picoult, there always seems to be some kind of underlying ethical, moral, or psychological question that enhances the plot or creates a subplot. In My Sister's Keeper, it involved the genetic screening of embryos and in Second Glace, it was eugenics. This novel did not have as obvious of a "question" or issue as these other two. Instead, there were several issues woven in. There was the disturbing secret life of teenage girls, the affect of adultery on a marriage, and the question of how our children suddenly grow up before our very eyes. All in all, I enjoyed this book very much, just as I thought it would. The allegory of the Inferno appealed to the English nerd in me and the graphic novel provided that little something extra to make the book unique. I thought the direction the book takes in it's final "act" was a little goofy and the end a bit predictable, but the character development (especially of Daniel) throughout made up for that. It may be a painful or difficult read for the parents of a teenage girl, but I would definitely recommend it for Picoult fans.

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