The Pact- Jodi PicoultSynopsis:
Emily Gold and Christopher Harte have known each other their whole lives, having grown up next door to each other in the small town of Bainbridge, New Hampshire. Virtually inseparable, the two are best friends and soul mates, with their friendship blossoming into a romantic relationship when they reach their teens. Their parents, Melanie and Michael Gold, and James and Gus (Augusta) Harte, are just as excited at the romantic union between their children- unsurprised at the turn that their friendship has taken- and impatiently wait for the day when they will be able to call each other in-laws, rather than just best friends.
But everything changes one night when Emily and Chris are admitted into hospital- Emily with a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The gun, belonging to Chris’ father, is found at the scene, with one unspent bullet still remaining in it. Chris tells police that the second bullet was intended for him, to complete the suicide pact he made with his girlfriend, but that he fainted before he could take his own life.
Doubting Chris’ story, the police decide to launch an investigation, naming Chris as the main suspect, and treating Emily’s death as a homicide…
What I gained from reading this book:
As with all of Picoult’s novels, The Pact raises some serious issues- most notably issues regarding teen suicide and love- and challenges the sincerity of the old saying, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’.
Chris’ life is irrevocably changed as he finds himself on trial for his beloved’s murder. His intense love for Emily, and his willingness to see her happy -whatever the cost- is his ultimate downfall. He learns who his true friends are, and discovers just how far his mother is willing to go to show her unwavering support for her son. Similarly, he sees how, despite his distancing himself from the problem, his father still tries to show compassion for Chris’ cause.
All of this is in direct contrast to Melanie Gold’s reaction to Chris’ involvement in her daughter’s death. Melanie, despite knowing Chris his whole life, is unable to comprehend that her daughter was suicidal, instead preferring to pin the blame on Chris, labelling him a murderer. She refuses to believe that her daughter wouldn’t talk to her about any problem that she may have had. This raises the question: How well do we ever really know our friends and family? There is always the perception that we should know when something is wrong, but in actuality, sometimes these problems can remain a secret until it’s too late to do anything about them. This book highlights the anguish faced by two grieving families, and serves as a lesson to readers that sometimes we don’t know people as well as we’d like to think we do.
This novel is beautifully written- Picoult makes it easy to understand and feel the conflict that Emily experiences in her relationship with Chris. Similarly, the tension and the emotion surrounding Emily’s death and Chris’ subsequent incarceration and trial, is extremely life-like, and draws us into the characters’ world.
This novel could be a little bit depressing for some people. Emily believes that all of her troubles will disappear if she can find a way to end her life, and as we progress through the book, we can see that this belief is what pushes her to make the decisions that she does- ultimately turning Chris’ life upside down. People who are looking for a light and fluffy read should steer clear from this novel.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Genre: Family/ Relationships
Recommended for: People who would do anything for love, even if the end result involves serious repercussions.
Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below: