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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2006
I was already a fan of Jodi Picoult, having read three of her other novels, and Salem Falls has only strengthened my high opinion of her as a novelist. Whilst not as good as her awesome My Sister's Keeper, this book only slightly falls short of that very high standard. It is a powerful and thought provoking read in its own right. Basically, Salem Falls follows the story of Jack St Bride, wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a girl in his previous role as a teacher, Jack has just been released from prison and ends up in Salem Falls, working in a diner. He begins a relationship with the diner's owner Addie, only to be accused of rape again by a group of local girls. It is then down to Jordan McAfee (a defence lawyer first introduced in another Picoult novel, The Pact) to try to rescue Jack from the same fate.
I did find it a little hard to get into the book at first, but once I did I was gripped. Picoult builds the story very clevely, making you doubt whether Jack was actually innocent in the previous case and whether or not he is telling the truth this time. She also creates a good insight into the minds of young women who make false accusations and certainly helped me understand a bit better why people sometimes want to ruin the lives of others in this way. The character's for the most part are appealling and believable, though not always likeable. They are all flawed, and so it never appears black and white as to who is to blame for the events, which of course makes it believable. As in her previous novels, Picoult displays a strong insight into how the minds of young people work and thus describes the group of teenagers who accuse Jack particularly well.
The novel has a similar storyline to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and Picoult herself does not try to hide this inspiration. Like Miller's play, the book is based in a small, close knit community that protects its own, and Picoult again describes the effect of this type of community with great skill. She also, in between progressing the main story, tells Jack's life backwards to birth, which helps to reveal his character in a very skilful way. My only two slight disappointments were that, unlike in her other novels, I saw the twists at the end coming almost from the start and the slow beginning to the novel. However, this is still an excellent novel and well worth a read, whether you are already a Picoult fan or not. Her subject matter is always thought provoking and it has made me think again about the issues raised in this novel and reassess my opinion.
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on 11 October 2006
I absolutley loved this book!!! Jodi Picoult has you engrossed throughout! I love the fact how she introduces more characters in this book than any before and that all of them have their secrets. The idea of being falsley accused of sexually abusing a student is believable, but the stuff on Witchcraft was slightly extreme. An excellent book, covering rape, sexual abuse, friendship, love, prison, witchcraft and much more, which is quite a lot for a small town of Salem Falls. A must read!!!
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on 14 February 2007
I've only recently discovered Jodi Picoult, and really enjoyed the first couple of books, but then realised that it was getting rather samey - easy to guess where the story was going and knowing what would happen in the inevitable court case.

This one started out, for me, in a way where I could just guess who was going to do what ... but suddenly I was completely gripped and couldn't put the book down.

I got a few of my guesses right, but I won't spoil things by saying what these were! Now I'm quite sad that I read the book so fast - it was definitely one of Picoult's best.
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VINE VOICEon 14 January 2006
There are many aspects within this novel that are present throughout many of Picoult's other novels. First and foremost, it's a legal thriller that deals with issues which can be quite easily deemed as sensitive.
Secondly, it explores family relationships and the ways in which they can be tried and tested.
Thirdly, it proves that regardless of the situation, there are always two sides to every story.
More than that though, Salem Falls is based on whether a person previously convicted of a crime can receive a fair trial when accused again of commiting the same act.
This is the story of Jack St Bride, a teacher who, after being released from prison for being [wrongfully] convicted of forcible sexual assault against one of his students, decides to start a new life in a small town. He falls in love, but his happiness is short lived when details of his past emerge and the townsfolk begin what can only be described as a witch hunt.
A local teenage girl tries to throw herself at Jack, and after being spurned by him, wreaks revenge by orchestrating events and claiming that he has raped her.
Jack's defense team are Jordan and Selena (the same legal team that defend Christopher Harte in "The Pact"), and it's their job to prove that the DNA evidence is circumstantial.
There are many twists and turns in the plot along the way to keep the reader guessing until the very end of the story.
It's a great read, very entertaining and extremely thought provoking. I'd definitely recommend it to all fans of Jodi Picoult.
As a side note, if you haven't read a Jodi Picoult novel before, I'd strongly advise reading "The Pact" first. Whilst the main storylines are not connected, the relationship between Jordan and Selena is continued from the previous novel.
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on 14 November 2007
The books of Picoult's that I've read include: Keeping Faith, The Tenth Circle, Salem Falls and Plain Truth. Of all, I have found that Salem Falls was by far the best; it was a book that I just couldn't put down from wanting to know the outcome in court for Jack. It was an excellent read. It is all about perception; how everyone condemns a rapist instinctively; they think they know what happened and are quick to react, when in fact they could not be more ignorant. Myself included, I imagine in this situation I would agree with everyone else - this is what makes the book good: Jack is innocent but has become caught up in cases where no one is willing to listen or to take his side. It such a frustrating book, but excellent at portraying the other side.
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on 30 December 2005
I had never read a Jodi Picoult book this one as I thought the storylines sounded a bit depressing but this book really surprised me. It is beautifully written and explores a sensitive theme with great care, covering both view points. The ending has a brilliant twist which i thought was very clever. Since reading this book, I have bought some of Jodi Picoult's other books and I plan to buy more......
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on 26 April 2006
I have read 4 Jodi Picoult books, starting with My Sisters Keeper (which I would recommend as a starting point to those who have yet to read Picoult books) and Salem Falls is clearly the best. I was a little disheartend by some choices Picoult made in The Pact and was unconvinced that she would grip me again with Salem Falls, but I'm so glad I tried it. If you never read another Jodi Picoult book again, stick with Salem Falls. Picoult makes her wisest character and plot choices in this book and the resolve makes sense (something she doesn't always pull off!)
I wont give it away, but the plot is terrific so bloody well.
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on 15 July 2001
I have read all of Jodi Picoult's books that I have been able to get hold of and this one did not disappoint me in any way. Generally, I read books over a longish period but this one had me neglecting almost everything else. It is a clever use of the familiar (the Salem Witch Trials of 1692)and the new. Here we have a combination of the occult, teenage angst, sex crimes, a witch hunt (in two senses) and a trial. There is a twist in the tail which I had never, in my wildest imaginings, thought of. Miss Picoult is a mistress of suspense and real interest, obviously supported by conscientious and painstaking research. This book has deprived me of sleep, because I could not put it down, and made be neglect my duties. I heartily recommend it.
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on 24 November 2009
One of the best books I have read. Absolutely loved it. It makes you think about every story having two sides and how we need to listen to both and than make our mind up.

This is a story of Jack St Bride who moves to Salem Falls after being released from prison where he served eight months sentence for raping a minor. Jack has always said he was innocent.

He starts working in a diner and falls in love with the owner Abbie who herself has some ghost of the past that won't leave her alone.

When he is once again accused of a rape of a minor his life shatters to peaces - the small town is against him and even the woman he loves has doubts.

It's up to him and his lawyer Jordan to prove his innocence and this time it's harder than ever....

Really recommend this book. I love Jodi's easy to read writting style, you can picture the characters as you read and that for me is very important. 10/10
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on 25 November 2008
One thing I really loved about this book was the cover. There's something...alluring yet so sad and mysterious about the girl and I instantly wanted to read it. Also, the title, Salem...it made me think of witches etc. and I was right...sorta.

This book is fascinating. You get a lot of insight into the Wicca religion, cults, teenagers and how justice can sometimes be delivered so cruelly to those who don't deserve it...

I'd just read 'The Pact' when I saw this book, so I got it right away. I'm very glad I did as it's just as brilliant. ^_^

The love story between Jack St Bride (a man accused of rape) and Addie Peabody (a woman who was gang-raped) is bittersweet and will make you cry. You really feel for all the characters and get to know them.

There are also a few twists throughout and at the end. NOTHING is as it seems in this book and I highly recommend it! ^_^
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