Gary the Bookworm's Reviews > Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay
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Read 2 times. Last read April 14, 2013.

Normally, when a book screams at me, I'm going to be a movie, someday! I let it go. In the case of Defending Jacob, I sullenly read on, primarily because it was this month's selection for my book club at the Adult Center (view spoiler).I would no sooner have shown up on Tuesday AM to face this band of retired teachers and librarians without having read the book, than I would have smoked pot before taking the SAT's. So on I read, becoming increasingly annoyed as implausible plot twists piled one on top of the other. The first-person narrator is a seasoned district attorney who finds himself on the other side when his son is accused of murdering a classmate. There are descriptions of affluent suburban life and the hell of middle school which lend it a breezy relevance, but according to my lawyer friends the legal proceedings strain credulity. I see things through the prism of literature, not the law, so I enjoyed all the philosophical musings about a murder gene which puts this squarely into the realm of Nathaniel Hawthorne and his fixation on the sins of our fathers. There are also some insights into the risks and rigors of parenting that hit me in the heart, but overall I found this to be predictable and a bit too long. It was like a two-hour season finale of a TV crime show, with a lot of extraneous padding to allow for more commercials.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (ebook Edition)
August 23, 2012 – Shelved
Started Reading
April 14, 2013 – Finished Reading
December 11, 2013 – Shelved (ebook Edition)

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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message 1: by Kim (last edited Apr 14, 2013 11:01AM) (new)

Kim The first John Grisham novel I read (I've read a total of two) struck me like that. It read like a movie screenplay. Then I found out that the movie was in fact being made. I tend to dislike books clearly written with expectations of Hollywood success.


Gary  the Bookworm Kim wrote: "The first John Grisham novel I read (I've read total of two) struck me like that. It read like a movie screenplay. Then I found out that the movie was in fact being made. I tend to dislike books c..."

I think that is a major problem with most of the best-sellers today. I recently read that Murder Comes to Pemberley is being filmed. It appears that we'll never escape that horror.


message 3: by Kim (last edited Apr 14, 2013 11:03AM) (new)

Kim Gary wrote: "I recently read that Murder Comes to Pemberley is being filmed...."

Oh good grief! Mind you, I'm rather glad I read it because I may not have met you otherwise.

ETA. In my mind that book is now called "Death to Pemberley"!


Gary  the Bookworm That's making lemonade out of lemons. I feel the same way. I like the new title!


message 5: by Kim (new)

Kim A GR friend called it that once (I can't remember if it was by mistake or deliberately) and it's stuck.


message 6: by Steve (new)

Steve Good one, Gary! I see you corrected a typo from an earlier version of this. I liked the interesting light your first draft put you in. Prior to your edit, I saw "then I would have smoked pot before taking the PSAT's."


Gary  the Bookworm You don't miss anything do you Steve? Usually Suzanne catches my errors (English teachers never retire, but their sphere of influence diminishes). Would you believe that auto spell struck again?


message 8: by Steve (new)

Steve I miss plenty, Gary. That line stuck out, though, sort of like when you hear the word "nude" in a newscast.


Gary  the Bookworm Well, I am a child of the '60's. But that's old nudes...(I don't think I smoked weed until after the SAT's however.)


Suzanne Steve, I've never edited Gary's writing, never not even college. I do admit that spell check mangles my spelling too. Even though I was the English major and Gary history, he always got higher grades.


Gary  the Bookworm Who said you edited anything? I said you catch my errors. And then(than?) you leave me me hanging in the wind!


message 12: by Steve (new)

Steve Haha, it's fun seeing the two of you going back and forth with each other. I've got a wife like that, too, Gary. We're lucky for that, aren't we?


Gary  the Bookworm Yeah, the only things we agree on are our cats (always) and our kid (mostly). If you like our comedy of manners, you'd love Pride and Prejudice.


message 14: by Steve (new)

Steve Very good!

P&P is on my list. It's one of Susan's favorites, too!


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan Did you read Death Comes to Pemberley? Even though I'm a big fan of both P.D. and Jane, I couldn't make it through more than ten pages or so. And now you tell me that it will be a film...I admit that I probably will watch it, especially if the cast is interesting. Train wreck effect.

This is a super review, Gary! You did a wonderful job expressing the misgivings I have about this genre--all I can manage is a sort of sputtering rage--and you even included a reference to Hawthorne! Though that might dignify this story a bit too much.

I confess to some smug self-congratulation about my success (so far) at avoiding book clubs! I hope their next choice is better than this one!


Gary  the Bookworm Susan wrote: "Did you read Death Comes to Pemberley? Even though I'm a big fan of both P.D. and Jane, I couldn't make it through more than ten pages or so. And now you tell me that it will be a film...I admit ..."

Death....is one of the more unfortunate fan-lit efforts. You were smart to stop after 10 pages. I liked Murder at Mansfield Park a lot but Fanny Price isn't Elizabeth Bennett so my expectations were less. Actually, the book club discussion was interesting although others were bothered by the obvious pandering to Hollywood. Thanks for the thumbs up.


Suzanne The book club we joined is quite remarkable. I, also turned down a few invitations to join book clubs. This one is in an old , barely , rehabilitated school. No wine, no cookies. The members are people from the community, but not friends, per se. We smile and chat before 10:30. At 10:30, we each speak about how we feel about the book, with few interruptions. The moderator, a retired librarian speaks last. She's got a few questions or some information and we discuss a bit more and it's noon. The time flies. We don't talk about kids or vacations unless it is relevant.
Gary really had to push me to join. It's nice to hear intelligent people discuss a book. Often times, I'm not thrilled with the selections, but the discussions more than make up for the book choices. Most of the club liked Defending Jacob because of the issues which were discussed. Nature v/s nurture, parenting, denial, etc. No one compared the writing to Jane Austen, of course. If we were going to discuss P&P, we' probably need 3 or 5 hours at least, and not do it justice.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan I need to find a book club like yours, Suzanne. I'd appreciate the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to have someone knowledgeable leading the group. The trouble is, I like to read whatever I want, whenever I want. Too much independence is not a good thing in this case.


Gary  the Bookworm I poke fun at our literary ladies-and one other lad, but we are all committed to reading and a high level of discussion. It has broadened our reading tastes. We go on a hiatus for the summer and I'm going to miss it. I'll just have to amp up my Goodreads presence-and read about those Cubs!


Suzanne Book clubs usually meet once a month. So there is lots of time. I, also like to read what I want to read. But, being told what to read takes you out of your comfort zone, sort of an adventure. You never know where you'll end up. If the company is good, it's fun. You see new (in)sights and find new writers.


Anita This is the next selection for my book club... made up almost entirely of librarians...
Best review I've seen in a long time.
Love the photos.


Gary  the Bookworm Anita wrote: "This is the next selection for my book club... made up almost entirely of librarians...
Best review I've seen in a long time.
Love the photos."


Thanks. It's engrossing. I'm not quite sure why it's so popular with book clubs. It may be because its a quick read...with a moral dilemma.


Alexandra Jonathan Trooper books all scream " I'm going to be a movie ...!"


message 24: by Gary (last edited May 17, 2014 07:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gary  the Bookworm Alexandra wrote: "Jonathan Trooper books all scream " I'm going to be a movie ...!""

That's true. They filmed a short segment of the film adaptation of This is Where I Leave You in the village where I live.


Alexandra That's true. They filmed a short segment of the film adaptation of This is Where I Leave You in ..."

That's the book I had in mind when I posted that! Almost put me off reading any more JT. Gave "How to talk..." a chance and it wasn't too bad in terms of Hollywood appeal.


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