Monday, December 31, 2007

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

Title: Salem Falls
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN-13: 978074318713
Publisher: Washington Square Press/2001
Pages: 434

Salem Falls is the last book I read in the last day of 2007. It was a great way to end the year. Picoult takes up issues, which are too close to home. One can instantly relate to it. Many do not like the realistic way she portrays her novels. One thing about her is that she instantly sucks you into the story. Once I started it, I could not leave it until I finished it.

Jack St Bride, a former teacher in a girl’s prep school comes to Salem Falls wishing to forget his past. He had been in jail for eight months for having a sexual relationship with fifteen-year-old girl, Catherine Marsh, who had a crush on him. His own mother does not believe in him and deserts him. A PhD in History, he ends up washing dishes in a diner for Addie Peabody, who too has a ghost to bury. Unassuming and very handsome John, finds a way into the heart of Addie. As he had been convicted for sexual offence, he has to report to the local police about his whereabouts.

In that quiet place, four girls are trying to be witches by following Wicca rituals. They fantasize about him, and then maliciously target him yet again. Because of his past, he cannot escape this allegation.

Addie is shattered, as she does not know what to believe. St Bride’s lawyer too has misgivings about his innocence although he promises John the best deal out of it. John is defiant in the beginning and we see him slowly crumbling down under so much hatred. He accepts that he would get the maximum sentence and his life is over.

Slowly the dark secrets emerge, the witch hunting of John because of his past emerges, the girls try to stick to their story. We see dark magic and use of drugs by the sixteen year-old girls. Rape is a serious crime. However, it can be used as a powerful tool too. John is punished for what he would not do.

As with other Picoult books, we can see here too how power is misused. How law can be bended towards the ends, how a man despite being fulfilling his sentence still considered an offender. He is tried before he is punished. The title is very appropriate, as Salem Falls is a place, which has a previous history of witch hunting.