Lois Clark-Johnston's Reviews > The Pact

The Pact by Jodi Picoult
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's review
Feb 04, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: favorite-fiction

The Pact is definitely a love story. It tells the compelling tale of 2 families-neighbors for 18 yrs, 2 kids so close that when Emily was born Christopher was placed in her bassinet at the hospital-in essence she shared her bed with him before her parents. As they grow up the ideal best friends-inseparable, able to finish each others sentences, almost siblings-as that changes partially due to the pressure of hormones, partially due to the familiarity of sexual experiments explored with your best friend in the world, the pressures of family, parents, friends, small town expectations all culminating in a relationship that was perhaps too much for Emily. In pain as only a teenager can be-where your whole world is this minute and this day and this issue-without the perspective that life experience brings-Emily a serious and intense young girl decides that death-the ability to stop her life now before she makes any mistakes is far preferable to the pain of not living up to the expectations of parents, family, peers and a small town. IT is the story of how you handle the worst event you have ever lived with-the death of your child-when the person most closely involved with that death is the child of your best friend.
Emily is such a strong character and her story is real to anyone who has feared disappointing their parents as they truly leave childhood behind and move into adulthood. The mortification of messing up when you are "the good child" with a bright and promising future. It is about being terrified of what comes next and if you are really as ready for it as everyone seems to think you are. The need to pretend to be perfect, the need to hide your intense all-consuming pain for fear that you hold within you the seeds to the destruction of everyone you have ever loved. To get up and realize one day that you CAN NOT go on, you can not handle what is coming next and that the decision to take your own life has given you the strength to face the in between time. I do not think anyone has not at some point felt that they had dug themselves in so deep that death was preferable to facing what it will take to dig yourself out. Only once you have faced your fears and problems and acted on them-making more mistakes and errors on the way-can you truly come out of that kind of despair. I know, I have been there. What Emily lacked was the perspective that age and experience brings-even though both age and experience can still not save you in the depths of a true depression where right is left, up is down and inside is outside.
This is also the tale of Chris-her boyfriend who could not at all understand what Emily suffered-what inner demons steered her unerringly to suicide-but who loved her enough to want to help her not suffer any more. A truly rare man (in my experience men most often give you what they want you to want and not what you really want or need) but Chris truly loved Emily enough to know that the knight in shining armor Emily needed was not the one he wanted to be, would break his heart into pieces and ultimately destroy his life-and give it to her anyway.
Phenomenal book, emotional roller coaster, but again with the 11th hour shocking court room confession and pat if happy ending

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