Jodi Picoult (pronounced Pe-koe, like the tea) wrote her first short story at age 5. She was published in Seventeen magazine while she was in college and was primary writer for DC Comics Wonder Woman Vol. 3. She is probably my over-all favorite fiction writer.
As a reader, I find her books captivating – usually from the first paragraph – and gripping to the last page. As a writer, I love her voice and envy her skill at hooking her readers from the first paragraph and keeping them engrossed in the characters to the last page.
One thing that makes her stories so full of heart clutching moments is that she writes about subjects that are current and possibly on the edge of controversy. Such as: teen suicide (The Pact); bullying and school shooting (Nineteen Minutes); Autism (House Rules); post-divorce ownership of the embryos (Sing You Home); euthanasia (Mercy); various medical ethics (My Sister’s Keeper); child abuse by a priest (Perfect Match); and stigmata, a phenomena recognized by some Christian denominations (Keeping Faith).
If you have read any of these books, you might disagree on what I named as the primary subject of the book. For instance Sing You Home (2011) deals with loss of a premature baby, how grief might alienate a couple rather than bring them together, gay relationships, evangelical Christians’ beliefs about the pre-born child. All of Ms. Picoult’s novels incorporate many issues.
I have to admire her for the way she handles these delicate subjects, bringing out the very human feelings on both sides of a topic. Her technique of telling the story in more than one point of view lends itself to the success she has as a storyteller.
Because I am a writer, I think I am a discriminating reader. I pick up redundancies and discrepancies and see typos. This makes me a good editor/proof reader, I think, but a picky reader-for-entertainment.
I say that to say this: There is a J.P. novel I didn’t finish reading. I usually give a book 50-100 pages to draw me in and this one just didn’t make it. When I looked at the copyright date, I saw that it was written 20 years ago. It was actually her first novel – before she honed her skills, I like to think.
Excuse the audacity in my review of a best selling writer. The point is that for the hard-working writer, our work should improve with each effort. We have all read recent novels by well-established writers who just phoned it in and relied on their name to sell the book. I don’t think Picoult has ever done this.
And that is why I read Jodi Picoult.
For a full list and reviews of Jodi Picoult novels, visit her Amazon Author’s page here.