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Salem Falls

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Jack buries his past, content to become the mysterious stranger who has appeared out of the blue. Addie, desperate for answers, must look into her heart -- and into Jack's lies and shadowy secrets -- for evidence that will condemn or redeem the man she has come to love.

When Jack St. Bride arrives by chance in the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls, he decides to reinvent himself. Tall, blond, and handsome, Jack was once a beloved teacher and soccer coach at a girls' prep school -- until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his reputation. Now, working for minimum wage washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, Jack buries his past, content to become the mysterious stranger who has appeared out of the blue.

With ghosts of her own haunting her, Addie Peabody is as cautious around men as Jack St. Bride is around women. But as this unassuming stranger steps smoothly into the diner's daily routine, she finds him fitting just as comfortably inside her heart -- and slowly, a gentle, healing love takes hold between them.

Yet planting roots in Salem Falls may prove fateful for Jack. Amid the white-painted centuries-old churches, a quartet of bored, privileged teenage girls have formed a coven that is crossing the line between amusement and malicious intent. Quick to notice the attractive new employee at Addie's diner, the girls turn Jack's world upside down with a shattering allegation that causes history to repeat itself -- and forces Jack to proclaim his innocence once again. Suddenly nothing in Salem Falls is as it seems: a safe haven turns dangerous, an innocent girl meets evil face-to-face, a dishwasher with a Ph.D. is revealed to be an ex-con. As Jack's hidden past catches up with him, the seams of this tiny town begin to tear, and the emerging truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray. Now Addie, desperate for answers, must look into her heart -- and into Jack's lies and shadowy secrets -- for evidence that will condemn or redeem the man she has come to love.

434 pages, Paperback

First published April 3, 2001

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About the author

Jodi Picoult

232 books73.6k followers
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, and My Sister’s Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

MAD HONEY, her new novel co-authored with Jennifer Finney Boylan, is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio on October 4, 2022.

Website: http://www.jodipicoult.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodipicoult

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,876 reviews
Profile Image for Baba.
3,560 reviews857 followers
October 9, 2022
A possible unfairly convicted sex-offender and former private school teacher tries to eke out a new life in Salem Falls when he falls afoul to doubt and suspicion when his status is (as by law) made public. When one of a group of Wiccan girls accuses him of sexual assault, he finds himself in court again. A typically interesting and thoughtful dilemma drama as Picoult delves not only into the way we treat those accused of sexual offences, but also how we put people in boxes. 7 out of 12.

2007 read
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,687 followers
March 15, 2009
I'm not a likely candidate to read a Jodi Picoult book. I have to admit that I've always been a bit of a snob when it comes to the books that my Mom read.

She was a big fan of mysteries, but nothing classic (no Christie or Doyle), very little new or challenging (no Steinhauer or Rankin), and practically nothing genuinely pulpy (no Leonard or Chandler). She always preferred the uber-popular stuff and was a massive fan of James Patterson (and his peers), having to go out and buy the books from his mystery-mill in hardcover they day they were released.

And that's where the snobbery comes in. I tried a couple Patterson books early on, but his work is basically crap, so when my Mom discovered Jodi Picoult, adding Picoult to her list of favourite authors and telling me I should read her, I mocked my Mom's taste and avoided Picoult with an internal snicker.

But then my Mom died last month and my Dad asked me to go through her bookshelves and take anything I wanted. And there was Jodi Picoult.

Now this probably wouldn't have been enough to make me grab a stack of my Mom's Jodi Picoult books, but two other moments pushed me over the edge. First, I bought my Mom Jodi Picoult's Wonder Woman: Love Murder for Christmas. I found it during a random book store browse and thought it would be a good way to introduce my Mom to graphic novels; second, I read a recent article by Stephen King that was talking about the merits of some of our most popular novelists, praising both Rowling and Picoult while damning Stephanie Meyer (raise a cheer!) and Patterson. I am not a big fan of King's fiction, but I do enjoy his essays on popular culture and literature, so his opinions are close enough to mine to take as advice.

So I added the Jodi Picoult books grudgingly to my haul and put Salem Falls -- a random selection -- straight onto my to-read soon stack.

I finished Salem Falls last night and I can say that I was completely surprised by how good it actually was and disappointed by how good it wasn't.

Picoult is a good writer. She has serious chops. She balances multiple characters with the speed and grace of an excellent screen writer (I'm not talking about screen hacks here), giving us vivid scenes that tell the tale quickly and move on to the next important scene with no meaningless lingering. Her dialogue, though occasionally cliche, is believable and serves to make every character an individual. And her use of flashback to tell us bits and pieces about her people is superb.

I was sold on Salem Falls by page ten, and she held my attention right to the end. I didn't expect that.

Even with Stephen King's praise, I was ready to scoff at Picoult's work, but she really impressed me. Until Salem Falls shifted from an interesting story about interesting people to a boring Law and Order style courtroom drama.

And it didn't have to do that.

By the third act, Picoult gave up the creativity that was making Salem Falls a compelling read and took the conventional way out, which is a shame because the unconventional would have been so much better and realistic. You see, Picoult gave us all the information we needed to know the ending (which was a good one) early in her novel. A good reader, paying close attention, knows exactly what's going on. The problem is that her characters, smart people all (and brilliant in some cases), have the same information and never see what's happening.

So we find ourselves waiting to see how the "truth" is going to come out and save Jack St. Bride, how it's going to make the trial meaningless, how it's going to save people's spirits and the bodies of some young women, but we are let down because, apparently, the smart folks in Salem Falls aren't as brilliant as the folks reading about them.

Usually I would be a fan of people not being saved because in real life, more often than not, that is the case. People aren't saved. People go on in pain. People live with abuse that doesn't end. People hurt. And when authors are brave enough to let that happen I am generally full of praise. I would have been in this case too, had Picoult employed dramatic irony. But she didn't. There was no pertinent information we had that was withheld from the characters. They had the same access to information that we did, and they were oblivious. And I was left disappointed.

I wanted more from Picoult, and she promised more in the first two acts only to fail us in the third; still, she did enough to win me as a fan (albeit it a mildly skeptical one).

I will definitely read her again. I just hope she doesn't continue to exceed my expectations only to dash my hopes. There is only so much of that I can take.
Profile Image for Elaine.
604 reviews230 followers
November 28, 2015
This is one of those long reads where you really get to know the characters. It is set in Salem Falls, the quintessential American small town, a place where nothing much happens and where people move to because of its low crime rate. It is a safe place to bring up a family.

However, the residents are in for a shock with the arrival of Jack St Bride, a man with a past. He is desperate to hide the fact that he has just been released from prison after having served eight months for a sexual assault – a crime he is adamant that he did not commit. When local diner owner Addie Peabody gives him a job and a place to stay it seems that he is finally back on track, especially when he and Addie start to get friendly. The story really starts when his secret is discovered and I don’t want to spoil the read for anyone else, but we are soon embroiled in a complex story of lies and betrayals.

The storyline really kept my interest with all its twists and turns although it was a little predictable in parts. When the twists came, they weren’t so much surprising as confirming the suspicions I already had about what was likely to happen. In particular there is a huge surprise at the very end, but again I already had my suspicions about that anyway.

It is a long read and there are times when the author tends to stray off the path a bit, particularly when she delves back into Jack’s life story. Whilst these help to polarise your impressions of Jack and the man he has become, in all honesty they do not really add that much to the plot.

On the whole though, it is a good read.
Profile Image for Aoibhínn.
158 reviews208 followers
January 29, 2015
This is one of Jodi Picoult's best novels and one of my favourites. Perception is reality in this chilling tale of how one man can be condemned not once, but twice. It is a compelling and thought-provoking read. The author deals with the controversial subject of the novel with perfection, providing plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way. The characters are appealing, believable and well-developed. I fell in love with the characters of Addie and Jack. Salem Falls is an incredibly well-written novel which will keep you gripped from beginning to end.

A well deserved five stars!
Profile Image for Shelah.
171 reviews33 followers
December 13, 2008
I wasted most of this weekend reading Salem Falls, the story of Jack, a high school history teacher who tries to start his life again after being wrongly accused of sexual assault, only to have the whole thing happen again in the new town. It was an easy read, an engrossing story, but there were parts of the story that drove me crazy. For one thing-- the dates were constantly off. For example, Jack's love interest Addie had a daughter who died some time in the past. At one point, they said she'd died ten years earlier, at another point, they said it was eleven years earlier, and another time they said it was eight years earlier. It might not seem like that big a deal, but it mattered to me, because it was the only way for me to gauge how old Addie was, since I knew that she was twenty-seven when her daughter died (or was she?). At the end of the book, they talk about how Jack went to jail in the summer of 1998, but the book takes place in 2000, and he was in jail for eight months, so he obviously went to jail in 1999. It's stuff like that that drove me nuts. Furthermore, while the story kept me reading, it felt like literary McDonalds. Not really good, not at all mind-expanding, but it somehow kept me coming back for more. It definitely cemented my opinion that Jodi Picoult is the female gender's John Grisham.
Profile Image for Nina.
17 reviews12 followers
October 29, 2009
I think this is the weakest Picoult book I've read so far - well, OK, Change of Heart didn't win a Pulitzer with me either. I go into one of her books expecting a certain amount of cheap romance and schmaltzy cliches, but I also expect both a real twist in the plot and a thought-provoking analysis on a current issue, but this one didn't really deliver.

Quick synopsis: the protagonist, having just come out of 8 months in jail for a statutory rape charge, shows up in a small town, and falls in love with the owner of the local diner. Then he is accused of raping another girl and the whole nightmare starts all over for him.

Pros: I love literary references and plot lines that are a commentary on other plots, so I really enjoyed the references to The Crucible, although I thought having it set in a town with a historic association to witch trials was laying it on a little thick. Another pro is certainly the fact that I raced through the book to get to the ending, but then I ended up feeling let down. I also like that Picoult left a certain amount of mystery about the supernatural in the book.

Cons: First, the unbelievable amount of sappy cliches, presumably meant to make the reader swoon in vicarious passion and pity. It felt like the romance parts of the novel were written by doing a search on the most popular cliches in trashy books, rather than out of any depth of understanding. And the corniness doesn't stop there - the author does everything possible to turn the protagonist into a naive Prince Charming, but ends up looking like a moronic Dudley Do-right. I was really hoping that he would turn out to be the rapist in the prior case, just to break the unrealistic and monotonous theme of "innocent man with the world against him". But of course, he and his lady love are perfect in every way. The author even goes into how he intellectually inspired all the inmates and managed to avoid being raped in jail. This is because he wouldn't be fantasy material for sentimentalists if he'd been homosexualized and degraded - but I think Picoult misses the opportunity to draw an intriguing parallel between a rape happening to him and being ascribed to him. It also makes the point that having enough dignity and personal strength will keep someone from being raped (wow, if only the victims in the book had known that).

The thing that really, really annoyed me was the fact that the "surprise" ending (that the victim is being molested by her father) is obvious from pretty early in the book, so I was just waiting for the satisfaction of seeing that revealed. Instead the book puts it in the very last paragraph and the molester goes unpunished. Presumably this is because the girl "deserves" what is happening to her (no effort is spared in making her out to be a spoiled, selfish and vindictive vixen - because of course, that's what teenagers from broken homes are when they act out). But the end message is that it's fine for the real crime to go unnoticed and unpunished - the important thing is that the two lovers are able to ride off into the sunset together.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Suzzie.
908 reviews165 followers
December 11, 2017
Wow I was totally enthralled around page 180. I was hooked solid at that point. This book is engrossing. I am trying to get through a big box of books from my grandmother which included Jodi Picoult, Danielle Steel, and Nora Robert's books and I am so addicted this these authors right now. I usually read mostly sci-fi/fantasies but am glad I'm reading these. It has been a good change for a bit.

Overall, a profound story of injustice, lies, love, and small town life. The cast of characters are a wide variety of lovable, obnoxious, vulnerable, eccentric, etc. So interesting!
Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,453 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2022
This is a Women's Fiction book. This is the first Jodi Picoult book that I read, and this book started me wanting to keep reading her books. I found this book to make me think about so many things. The characters just feel so real. I enjoyed this book so much, but this book was not an easy read.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
132 reviews10 followers
October 15, 2015
The only other book have ever read by Jodi Picoult was My Sister's Keeper. It wasn't great, it wasn't all that good. It was 'ok' at best.

That book was leaps and bounds better than Salem's Falls. This is an awful, awful book. It stinks. Also, I didn't like it.

*beware: here there be major spoilers*
I may have gotten some minor details wrong and left some stuff out, but this is basically what happens:

Jack, a sensitve drifter with a past, wanders into a New England town. He quickly and easly lands a job washing dishes at the local diner.

But Jack is not your run of the mill drifter, oh no. He is a former teacher and soccer coach. He was recently released from prison following a wrongful conviction for statutory rape. A student, Catherine, had such bad crush on him she kept a fake diary of thier 'romance'. Her father found it and assumed it was real.

Anyway, Jack is very handsome. He is also good at guessing the answers on Jeopardy! This is very important. His skill at Jeopardy! even saved him from prison rape. Sorta.

Did I mention he is handsome?

Because he is.


Addie, that's the diner's owner, has her own problems. Her daughter Chloe has died but she continues to talk about her as if she alive. She even makes her lunches. At some pont it also comes out that Chloe was concieved as a result of rape, because a dead kid just isn't *dramatic* enough. Addie's daddy is also a lush.

Jack humors Addie about her dead daughter. This combined with his dazzling handsomeness and prowess at Jeopardy! makes Addie fall in love with him.

Then the word gets out that Jack is a convicted sex offender. Addie and Jack's romance keeps on going after she learns about his conviction because he says he didn't do it. Other people in town don't take the news so well. They try to drive him out of town. Set a fire, beat him up. You know, the usual.

On top of all that, there this a group of teenage girls who practice Wicca. That's right, Salem Falls has witches.

Gillian who is basically the lead 'witch' has the hots for Jack. This is all on account of his excessive handsomeness and because her daddy tells her to stay away from him. Gillian has some big ol' issues. By the end it is strongly implied her father is sleeping with her. (Don't complain. I told you there would be spoilers!)

Meanwhile, since things are going so well with Addie, Jack decides its time to fuck things up. He packs up Chloe's room without consulting Addie. Addie freaks out. Jack gets drunk at a local bar with Addie's lush of a father. Then he stumbles off through the woods where he happens on the local teenage witches performng some kind of teenage witchery. Naked teenage witchery. Gillian throws herself at Jack. He manfully resists and stumbles on back to Addie's house.

Addie forgives him for packing up Chloe's things and lets him back in. The next morning the cops break in and arrest and Jack for raping Gillian in the woods. Addie isn't quite so sure if she trusts Jack anymore.

Jack gets a lawyer who thinks he is guilty, then decides Jack is innocent, but changes him mind again, and again.

Some information about the girl's naked witchery comes out, and the fact they were high comes as well.

Addie decides to visit Catherine, the first girl who accused Jack of rape. Addie realizes Jack is innocent because the time Catherine said she met Jack was when Jeopardy! was on. She knows that Jack wouldn't miss Jeopardy! ever. Not even for sex. Addie gets Catherine to admit to her that Jack is innocent, but refuses to come forward in court.

At some point, I forget exactly when, one of the guys who raped Addie decides to apologize to her and she accepts, just like that. No big whoop.

More boring trial stuff happens and then suddenly Catherine dramatically shows up in court and admits she never had sex with Jack.

Jack is acquitted of raping Gillian. He is only guilty of being handsome and good at Jeopardy!

Gillian was so pissed that Jack wouldn't have sex with her she accuses him of rape for funsies. Girls!

Addie and Jack decide to leave town together because people there will never ever, not ever, accept Jack.

Excessive handsomeness ruins peoples lives, Ya'll!

Addie's drunken father takes over the diner.

Happily ever after.

The end.

Except the last scene is Gillian's father telling her that he is the only one for and kissing her on the mouth. Ugh.

I hate this book. I really, really hate this book.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
119 reviews8 followers
June 24, 2008
A most frustrating book. It is written on a formula perfect for Lifetime TV for women. It is clearly intended to be an issue oriented novel on the subject of the abuse of Megan's law and false accusations. The subject is not an easy one to deal with.

I didn't like the graphic sex or the bad language. I didn't like the choppy style of jumping from one point of view to another without a transition. It was difficult to follow. Although the author apparently wanted a sensational surprise at the ending it was totally predictable. I was only surprised by the revelation of who the guilty party was in the unreported rape of one of the main characters. I was disappointed that when this revelation came the author and the character were content with an apology. The guilty party should have taken responsibility by turning himself in to the law and accepting the punishment he deserved. The real continuing perpetrator in the small town of Salem Falls should have been exposed in a way that his criminal behavior ended. That was the surprised that everyone the innocent as well as the guilty somehow avoided the consequences of their actions.

On the other hand I did read the whole thing because I wanted to see how it all turned out.
Profile Image for Rosey.
48 reviews45 followers
April 26, 2007
Another good book of Picoult's. This time, it was about an innocent teacher who was accused of sexual misconducts with a female student and had gotten out of prison for serving time on that. He moved into a new town, and unfortunately soon, everyone knew of his past and the accusations started up again. He was also innocent this time around. He had drunkenly stumbled across a group of girls who were out in the woods celebrating a Wiccan holiday, and their lies landed him in jail. With thanks to the devotion and faith of his new girlfriend, the truth began to unravel, bringing everything out in the open, including the very first girl whose accusation started it all. A powerful book - makes you think and realize the power of lies and how they can really DESTROY innocent people and lives. This is definitely a book I will keep for my library.
Profile Image for Tarmia.
194 reviews
March 3, 2018
This book presents a story filled with feeling and truth; telling a complicated tale filled with mistakes and misunderstandings and interwoven with a storyline about Wickens? Teenage witches? Sure......
Initially, I was a little sceptical at the blending of these two things - a story about a wrongfully accused high school teacher who, having left prison and gone to a small town, again gets charged with rape and a group of teenage girls who practice magik. But, Picoult was able to work these two concepts into a story, and a good one at that, that is about much more than witches and rape - it's about identity and finding one's self, about love and acceptance, and about how people should not be judged by their pasts because the truth is not always there on the surface. I'm not sure what else to say.... but God, that ending was something.
Profile Image for Sarah Cavar.
Author 11 books131 followers
October 19, 2018
Way to paint a teenage sexual abuse survivor as an evil, pathologically-lying temptress, and a guy with shit boundaries as an oh-so-sad victim of scary girl’s’ false accusations. Absolute shit.
Profile Image for Emily Ruth.
25 reviews3 followers
November 9, 2015
Prior warning I'm writing this review at 4am having just finished this and I'm both a tad confused as to how the author of Sing You Home could have written this and pretty peed off.
Anyone else a little tired of books about rape ending up with the poor, handsome white boy being innocent? Especially when it was clear Picoult was a little bit in love with him, describing his features and his wonderful personality and his pointless subplot about enjoying Jeopardy. To be accused twice of sexual assault and be innocent of both is a little beyond the realms of believability as well, especially when a flashback to Jack's past revealed him to be quite the predator/condoner of sexual assault in his college years. What was the point of that flashback if not to cast doubt as to his moral character? Or were we supposed to consider him an awesome hero for eventually making them stop.
This is similar to my issue with the characterisation of Charlie who nonchalantly admitted rape to his victim and then apologised as though that is actually something acceptable we should be commending him for apologising for? Like I actually felt sick reading that knowing he wasn't ever going to be punished and she wasn't holding grudges against him.

The ending seems to have been incredibly obvious to most and admittedly I didn't see it coming despite usually being a plot guessing detective but... I just felt a little bit sickened that that's how she chose to end the novel with no explanation like... Gillian has been getting abused for years by her father? Why spend the entire book trashing her character and her morals to then tell us that? I don't care about Jack and Addie's boring ass heteronormative happy life when I know there's a rapist working in the police force and a young girl is in an inappropriate relationship with her father.
I'm just not sure what Jodi's intentions were with this book; I had her down as perhaps being a bit of a feminist but I'm both disappointed and nauseous. A boring and generic romantic plot from nowhere doesn't take away the poor handling of a serious social issue.
Profile Image for Nora aka Diva.
188 reviews11 followers
May 2, 2011
I have two words to discribe this novel, contrived and convoluted. From the very beginning this novel is ludicrous. The characters are so unbelievable you just don't care about their individual stories or the "big" picture they are all involved in either. Seriously? A teacher wrongly convicted of a sex crime ends up in a town called Salem Falls with teenaged witches plotting against him just because they can? So of course he is Again faced with false charges of rape being pressed against him, blah, blah, blah.
Ya know yes teenagers seem to make up the biggest growing section of pagan religions including wicca and other witchcraft sects but unless you actually know anything about the craft it's best to leave that subject to people who do. Otherwise you just look prejudiced against something you don't understand.
Anyway,I have read two other novels by Jodi picoult and I loved those, so I guess this novel proves that even a gifted writer is capable of producing an occasional stinker! I say skip this one.
Profile Image for Ashley.
180 reviews15 followers
July 20, 2015
Salem Falls is not exactly what I initially thought the book would be about from reading the synopsis on the back cover; however, it was a very interesting and mostly enjoyable read. Jack St. Bride was a history teacher at a private school who was falsely accused of statutory rape. Jack accepted a plea bargain when his lawyer advised him of all the circumstantial evidence against him and spent eight months in prison for a crime he did not commit. Upon his release, Jack knows that he cannot return to the town where he once lived and randomly chooses a new town when he sees a 'help needed' sign in a local diner. The owner, Addie Peabody, has a broken past of her own and has shut out every man who has dared to try to crack the tough exterior wall that protects her heart... that is until Jack walks into her life. The secret of Jack's former imprisonment doesn't stay a secret for long, however, and before Jack can fully realize what is happening, a modern day witch hunt has bloomed in Salem Falls with Jack the center of everyone's suspicion. When the daughter of a local wealthy business owner accuses Jack of rape, the townspeople immediately assume he is guilty, but Jack is determined to not once again take the fall for something he claims he did not do.

• Jodi Picoult is an amazing storyteller who is able to spin tales that keep me wanting to turn the page to see what happens. This is my fourth read from her, and she has never disappointed me.
• The story is told from multiple characters which allows the reader to see how different perceptions are and why people can see the same story in so many different ways.
• Jodi Picoult did a very good job of showing the hurt rape causes while at the same time showing that everyone who is accused isn't always guilty and how those lives can be destroyed as well.
• In typical Picoult style, there is a twist at the end that you don't see coming but makes perfect sense when you think about all the hints she drops along the way.

• I really wasn't a fan of all the witchcraft in the book. This was the detail the cover synopsis was missing; however, I should have assumed it from the title of the book. Witchcraft was portrayed as something that is more or less harmless and is a simple connecting of oneself with nature (even though the characters keep referring to gods and goddesses).
• The 'g-d' word is used a lot in this book from just about every character.
Profile Image for Ellen.
131 reviews9 followers
January 23, 2009
I enjoyed this book and finished it in one day of voracious reading, but I can't bear to give it more than two stars. I enjoy Jodi Picoult books, yes, but this one is not her finest. It seemed like she was trying really hard to write another "Jodi Picoult book," but not paying attention to the way the story unrolled or the characters or their motivations. Part of the reason this book irritated me, I think, was that I had just finished reading Alice Sebold's Lucky , which was a heartrendingly real account of a rape and its aftermath, and in this book, a rape is treated as a sensationalistic plot point. I enjoy Picoult's books because they deal with difficult and complex issues, but this book just seemed preposterous. I agree that the issue of branding sexual offenders for life is a complex one, with two sides that are both compelling. But that issue seemed overshadowed by the odds against one angelic man being falsely accused not once, but TWICE, for raping teenage girls. And where the hell did all the Wiccan stuff come from? Also, the grand plot twist at the end was plain to me from about a third of the way through the book. Oy.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,097 followers
March 24, 2020
This is one of my favourite Picoult books, I am not a Picoult fan but this is a good read.
Profile Image for Corinne.
68 reviews185 followers
May 8, 2015
Among the contemporary writers, I also read recently 'Salem falls' by Jodi Picoult. What I liked about her is: she does not expose only the evils of the society; she also shows our strengths right next to our frailties.

To give you a few examples of the positives in her book:

- In the opening scene, I'm touched by the compassion of the taxi driver, who picks up Jack for free, when he is walking down the highway, barely clothed on a very cold day, with no money

- then you see the reciprocative acts of protection between him and the woman Addie, right at the beginning, when he shows up at her restaurant

- later, you see the dignity of Jack on many occasions

- the act of self-sacrifice that Jack does to protect Addie's drunk father

- the extent to which Addie goes for helping Jack, in spite of her inner conflicts

- the generosity of Wes for Jack, in spite of their rivalry

And, in terms of craft, this is an author who keeps us uncertain till the end, forcing us to read every line, because you never know how the end will turn out.

I find Picoult has done a great job here, portraying a realistic story, in a way that is a balanced mix of good and bad, where everything does NOT turn out predictably.

Another great writer I’ve appreciated is Tony Morrison. Although sometimes I have difficulty following her use of dialects, I think in ‘Shula’ and ‘Beloved’ she has really created some great characters, with some vivid descriptions and interior monologues.

I really wish we had some great female writers in France, as you have in America.
Profile Image for Shawn.
Author 10 books239 followers
January 30, 2011

At first glance Salem Falls is intimidating. The print is small, the book is thick, and once you've dipped a toe into the pages you soon realize that the topic is delicate on top of everything else. It starts off as a slowly progressing story about a man, Jack, who has a past he clearly wishes to leave behind him. He finds himself in the presence of a woman, Addie, with an equally broken past who wishes just as much as Jack does to ignore it. But as with any story and its hidden secrets they are sure to find themselves unraveled, leaving the characters to piece back their lives as best as they can. But for Jack, his past comes back to haunt him in a very big way and innocence is something he finds himself fighting to prove again.

This book surprised me on multiple levels. Being a reader of young adult books on average I wasn't sure if I'd end up enjoying such a serious storyline. However once I read a few chapters into it I couldn't put it down. I couldn't pull myself away from the compelling struggles and triumphs that took places in these characters lives. Characters who I found myself sympathizing with and caring deeply about.

Right up until the very end I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping for an outcome that I would be satisfied with. And while the reader might be able to suspect the ending it was very well disguised and proved to be a well rounded and profoundly written book.
11 reviews
September 6, 2008
It is so hard for me not to completely immerse myself in Jodi Picoult's books and ignore the passing of time. I read this in one day--couldn't put it down. I love the way she develops characters to the point that I feel their pain.
Profile Image for Julie.
383 reviews4 followers
July 26, 2022
Oh no, I'm having a run of 1⭐ reviews🤦‍♀️
Really disliked this. Had absolutely no connection with the storyline at all.
Profile Image for Živilė Matijaškienė.
199 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2022
Tai pirmoji mano pažintis su šia rašytoja. Likau tikrai labai patenkinta atradimu.
Rašymo stilius - labai lengvai skaitomas ir prieinamas,
Istorijos eiga vedžiojama tikrai intriguojančiai ir detaliai, na o knygos herojai tikrai gerai išdirbti ir kupini savotiškumo ir unikalumo.
Manau, kad knygoje nieko netrūko, gal tik šiek tiek vietomis išsiplėtota per daug ir visas teisiamumo procesas ištemptas.
Bet pats pasakojimas tikrai užvirė kraują ir privertė pakramtyt nagus bei atvėrė akis..

Tikrai drąsiai imkit į rankas ir mėgaukitės šia knyga.
Profile Image for Shea.
508 reviews43 followers
December 12, 2010
I don't know what I would really rate this book. I felt that it was well-written (I would expect nothing less from Jodi Picoult) and well-planned, but the subject matter was something I struggled with. I think that's why it took me a lot longer to read this one than some of Picoult's others.
I was mostly bothered by the fact that Picoult perpetuated the idea of blaming the victim. The whole trial was basically a way for the defense to discredit Gillian. Regardless of whether or not she was telling the truth, the fact that they raked her name through the mud is the reason why actual rape victims don't come forward. Gillian was made out to be a slut who was on drugs, and regardless of whether or not she was, that doesn't mean she couldn't be raped. Picoult added to the stereotype that women are vindictive and will accuse men of such things when they do something bad to them, and seeing as Picoult is a woman herself, I had a major problem with that. I know this is just a work of fiction, but it still really bothered me.
I felt like Jack was supposed to be a sympathetic character, however that didn't really translate well to me. I thought he was a priviledged white kid who went to a good school and wasn't that great of a guy (I wasn't a fan of what his soccer team did in college--which he participated in--and he should have known his relationship with Catherine Marsh was inappropriate, if not sexual. I had a teacher in high school once say that if another teacher was doing anything that even remotely could come across as inappropriate, he had crossed a line, which I think is a good rule of thumb for high school teachers).
I didn't like how everyone in town seemed to disregard the fact that Jack's first sexual assualt conviction had nothing to do with a violent rape. It didn't really make sense to me the witch hunt that ensued regarding him; shouldn't they be more worried that he'd start a relationship with their daughters, not randomly and violently rape them? But, clearly the townspeople weren't really thinking, they were just doing whatever Amos told them to do, which is ironic in itself. I was really bothered by Amos' character (for obvious reason when you've read the whole book), but also by Charlie's character as well. Seeing as how they had both committed the same crime, I thought they shouldn't be so quick to judge (and say things like they thought his penis should be cut off, or when Charlie made him take out 30 pubic hairs for testing) when they should really be saying those things to themselves, especially since they never had to pay for their crime.
As others have said, the "surprise" twist at the end wasn't that big of a surprise. There were definitely hints throughout the book. It did succeed, however, in making Amos out to be an even bigger hypocrite than I had originally thought.
Profile Image for itsdanixx.
647 reviews55 followers
October 19, 2018
I said after my last Jodi Picoult read - Small Great Things - that I was getting a bit sick of the ‘Picoult Formula’ and would have taken a loong break from her books if I didn’t already have Salem Falls waiting to be read.

I was right that is wasn’t just that I had read several books by her in the last year as to why I didn’t like SGT - having read this much earlier book for comparison, she definitely has become complacent in her writing and lays it on waaaay too thick. Vague symbolism city, that one!

But anyway, this is supposed to be a review of Salem Falls! While symbolism and metaphors are still rife throughout, they are much more well done and spaced out in this book, which was definitely welcome. BUT, it follows her same ‘winning formula’ which unfortunately makes it very predictable, and has her signature twist at the end which this time I could see coming from a mile away, so it was very tedious at times. There were also some things that I really didn’t like about it - for instance, the flashback to Jack and his college soccer team and their ‘bonding activity’. People who’ve already read it will know what I’m talking about. What the actual f**k was that?! Made me so mad! I kind of wanted him to be found guilty because of that s**t. Gah!
But anyway, overall it was still much more enjoyable than SGT.

This is my sixth Jodi Picoult within the last 1.5 years or so ( and now Salem Falls) and there are still a few books by her that I would like to one day read (Lone Wolf, Plain Truth and The Tenth Circle, specifically), but I know that if I am to have any chance of enjoying them then I will have to wait at a year or two. Officially done with Picoult for a while.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,290 reviews215 followers
January 14, 2018

Well done Jodi! You've earned my trust back!

Now I know I just wrote a book review for Harvesting the Heart like an hour ago?!? But like I've mentioned in some reviews/my general status update: I HAVE A TON OF REVIEWS TO WRITE TODAY BECAUSE I'M A READING MANIAC/ROBOT AND READ A TON OF BOOKS THIS WEEK!

Salem Falls was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. Again, I have no idea who bought this book for me but THANKS ANYWAYS! Whoever you are, you are the real MVP (this weekend)!

I loved everything about this book, especially Jack and Addie!!!
I couldn't put this book down! I mean I did, but it was very hard.

So, Jack has a past.. that we discover throughout the book. While reading, Jodi just shoves you with really good twists which made me (I mean will make you?) want more. Plus, seeing how the town, and Addie, handle Jack's unpleasant situation and trail was addicting.

However, I definitely ended up wanting more from this book. I felt like I deserved more because the last part of the book was just kind of okay. Good, but okay. I don't even know if that makes sense or not but I'm going with it.
Profile Image for Kamalia Ramlan.
Author 12 books49 followers
November 6, 2019
3.8 bintang.

Gaya penulisan Jodi Picoult ni biasa-biasa saja, tapi kita semua tahu yang Picoult memang buat kajian mendalam untuk novel-novel yang dia tulis.

Babak-babak di kamar mahkamah paling menarik sekali. Adakah seseorang yang dituduh melakukan rogol terhadap remaja bawah umur dapat membersihkan namanya semula? Masih adakah kepercayaan masyarakat terhadap si tertuduh sedangkan hakikatnya dia tidak bersalah? Semua persoalan itu ada dalam fikiran aku sewaktu membaca novel ini dan Picoult menjawab dengan baik.

Seperti kata salah satu watak dalam novel ni; kita hanya mahu percaya apa yang kita mahu saja.
Profile Image for Dianne.
228 reviews43 followers
June 20, 2019
This book had me captivated. A handsome young soccer coach accused of raping one of his star players; did he or did he not commit the crime? The suspense builds steadily chapter after chapter, event after event, revelation after revelation. Jodi Picoult explores topics that are of concern in most countries and cultures. Accusations of sexual abuse by a teacher or coach cause people to form opinions for or against the accused. In this case a trial takes up the third part of the book. If you enjoy reading about criminal trials being judged by a jury you will enjoy Salem Falls.
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