I actually read Salem Falls a couple of years ago. I got really into Jodi Picoult after I read My Sister’s Keeper (I still haven’t seen the movie because I’m so disappointed that they changed the ending of the book, which was so, so powerful and I know wasn’t a decision that Picoult was happy with).
When I lived in Manchester, I actually bought a ticket to hear her speak at a special evening presentation hosted by the lovely Central Library, which is a crazy-beautiful circular building right in the city centre and possibly one of my favourite places in the UK. I found her to be really insightful and inspiring – I liked hearing her speak on the writing process, and read from her latest novel at the time (which was either Change of Heart or Handle With Care). I also got to meet her afterwards when I had her sign a couple of books for my mom and me, and she was really, really nice.
So when I came home and found Salem Falls on my parents’ bookshelf, I figured it was time for a re-read. I’m so glad I had completely forgotten the twist ending, because it surprised me all over again! Picoult is really good at twist endings.
The story centres on a former teacher, Jack, who was wrongfully accused of having an inappropriate relationship with one of his students. After serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to start fresh in New Hampshire. But one night, he ends up in an inadvertently compromising position when he runs into a group of teenage girls who have taken up an interest in Wicca, which sets the small town afire with accusations and blame.
Most of the good parts of this novel centre around the courtroom – Picoult is great at writing legal scenes and creating lots of suspenseful drama. This one sounds a bit crazy, but it has a nifty twist ending, a couple of sweet love stories going on in the background and well-written teenage characters (I always like when authors give teenagers some credit and credibility). I liked it just as well the second time around as I did the first.