Defending Jacob Defending Jacob discussion


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JoAnn Hoefler Finished the book two days ago and still contemplating the ending. Not sure how I feel about it!! What are your feelings?


David Freas That it was an easy way to end the book without a definite resolution.
We are left without knowing if Jacob was guilty or not, left to reach our own decision.


JoAnn Hoefler And that is quite a tough decision. No mother wants to think their child is capable of that type of crime. Not sure if I like the book ending without a definite resolution. I guess I am a happy ending person!!


David Freas I prefer 'happy' endings, too, but I'll take any ending that is definite over a nebulous one like this book had. That's why I gave it only 2 stars.


JoAnn Hoefler This book had such great reviews thats why I was drawn to it in the first place. I gave it three stars but I should take one back. :) Not sure I would read anymore of his books. But never say never.


David Freas I did read another of his books (Mission Flats) and found it just as diappointing as this one.


☯Emily  Ginder Dave wrote: "That it was an easy way to end the book without a definite resolution.
We are left without knowing if Jacob was guilty or not, left to reach our own decision."


Did the parents really know if their son was a killer? We are left with the same questions as the parents. I thought it was a brilliant ending.


message 8: by Coni (new) - added it

Coni I liked having to make the decision. The ending is something to think about and contemplate.


message 9: by Lucinda (last edited Apr 01, 2013 06:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucinda K Dave wrote: "I did read another of his books (Mission Flats) and found it just as diappointing as this one."

I was enjoying Mission Flats until the ending came.

The difference for me that made me like DJ better was that Andy never said anything in telling the story of Jacob that would make the ending impossible and suggest that he, as a narrator, was lying to us up to that point. He even drops hints such as saying that while the family was going through the trial, he saw that it was wearing Laurie down, but that at the time he figured that he would handle Jacob's situation and worry about Laurie later,which, he later realized, was a big mistake.

With Ben in Mission Flats, he knew a lot about what was going on with the murder the whole time(although not everything) but told the tale as if he didn't know all along, which amounted, in my book, to lying to the audience. Strange narrative device. My treading partner tried to tell me that it was simply a version of the "unreliable narrator" device, but it just didn't work for me.

(I hope that that made sense. I was trying to avoid big spoilers on Mission Flats.) :)


Jennifer ☯Emily wrote: "Dave wrote: "That it was an easy way to end the book without a definite resolution.
We are left without knowing if Jacob was guilty or not, left to reach our own decision."

Did the parents really ..."


I loved the ending. I couldn't stop thinking about this story after I read it. No parent would want to imagine their child capable of murder. But what if that parent started to question their own feelings? That doubt about your own flesh and blood would be enough to drive anyone over the edge.


Laurie Rosine I really felt for the mother. I think I would've done exactly what she did. To me, it seemed obvious that the boy was a murderer, but maybe I am wrong, after reading these posts.


Jennifer Laurie wrote: "I really felt for the mother. I think I would've done exactly what she did. To me, it seemed obvious that the boy was a murderer, but maybe I am wrong, after reading these posts."

I thought he was a murderer, also. I think the mom couldn't handle knowing this. I don't know if I could've done what she did but I understand why she did it.


message 13: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna Stene Laurie wrote: "I really felt for the mother. I think I would've done exactly what she did. To me, it seemed obvious that the boy was a murderer, but maybe I am wrong, after reading these posts."

I'm with you ... except that I LOVED the ending ... I thought it was made abundantly clear the child had committed the crime. There was no certainly no doubt left in mind !!! I know that I couldn't have done what she did, but I can definitely empathize with her feelings !!!!


Susan Oleksiw I thought the ending was perfect. Laurie couldn't face sending into the world a son who was capable for murder, and had killed twice already. She was ready to sacrifice her life along with his because she could see no other way out. It is ironical that she lived, and may face an indictment for killing her son.

In comparison, I thought the ending of Mission Flats was too contrived, even allowing for the revelation of an unreliable narrator.


message 15: by Tina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tina I liked the ending also. Like some that posted above, I felt it was made very clear he was the murderer. Whatever conclusion you come to though, it certainly is a book that stays with you and makes you think.


Kelly I thought the ending was outstanding. I didn't see it coming, it made you think, it provoked discussion with others that read the book--it really had the "wow" factor that you don't always get with books. I recommend it to everyone.


Sandy I loved the ending. I felt bad for the mother who believed she had no other choice.


Lucinda K I agree with you, Sandy. I wouldn't condone what the mother did, but I understand what drove her to it. She had to, in some sense, deal with her feelings about having a son who was a murderer all by herself because her husband kept sticking up for Jacob and believing in him. That would make a horrible situation for any mom 20 times (or more) worse.


message 19: by Victoria (last edited Apr 22, 2013 05:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Victoria I thought this book was fantastic.
For me the ending was clear ,as I hoped it wasn't Jacob, but knew all the evidence pointed to him. I felt as though it was scary as heck that you could love and raise a monster and be able, with a parent's love, to overlook it. All evidence pointed to Jacob.


message 20: by Mona (last edited May 05, 2013 07:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mona Fascinating characters. I thought it was abundantly clear that Jacob was a murderer, but that was on an emotional level (Laurie view). Analytically, it was all circumstantial (Andy view). Being a Scott Turow fan, I knew Laurie was going to be the surprise factor...though not quite in this way.


message 21: by Janice (new)

Janice Whitman Ironically, IF Andy had not thrown away the knife, and if it did prove Jacob's guilt, then they would have used the murder gene defense and hoped for psychiatric help or at least only 20 years in prison. Then Laurie and Andy would still be together and waiting for their son who would be still alive. To me, the whole book turned on that tossing of the knife.


Diane I thought it was an excellent ending; but it bothered me. I re-read the last chapter a day later to really absorb what Laurie had done. No doubt she was staging an accident but the outcome surely backfired.


Carla Burgess Just finished it yesterday and have been thinking about it as I interact with my two-year-old daughter. Our children are always somewhat of a mystery to us, but what about the kind of mystery this family lived?What must Laurie have experienced, not only guilt, but fear that Jacob would kill again. I don't think anyone can know how they would respond. I thought the book was structured well, because of the way the testimony was woven throughout. Had no idea they weren't in a trial about Andy's mishandling of the investigation.


Crystal Although I may not have agreed with the ending or wished it would have ended a different way, I appreciate a book that stays with me even days after I've finished. Looking back I see the subtle clues through the trial dialogue and wonder if others picked up on it.

As far as Jacob's guilt or innocence...there is no doubt. I think his mother knew all along and tried to do her best by her son, but in the end- she was certain. As a mother, my heart breaks.


Jeannie The ending was great. Unexpected and they best choice.


Jenn (One of Many, We are Legion) I loved the ending, particularly because it showed the interplay between the emotional court of "public opinion" and the objective evidence. We see it all the time - the public knows very little about the true evidence, or what it means, but they've made up their minds about notorious accused criminal long before the matter goes to trial. When said criminal inevitably is found not guilty, everyone wonders why and is outraged and nothing will change their minds that an injustice occurred.

But consider the opposite point of view - Andy or Jacob's point of view. All that circumstantial evidence was rather meaningless and did nothing to prove or disprove his guilt in any way. Some of the evidence suggested he may have known more than he let on - it certainly didn't make him look good, but did the actual evidence in court prove guilt? Not even remotely.

I think that situation happens more often than not in our justice system - the gathered evidence simply is not enough to send someone away for life, even if every fiber in your being tells you the guy did it. How often do we get to find out the bonafide truth after a verdict? Practically never. I thought the ending was true to life in that respect.


message 27: by Heather (new)

Heather H. JoAnn wrote: "Finished the book two days ago and still contemplating the ending. Not sure how I feel about it!! What are your feelings?"

nOT happy with the ending....


Debbie Miller I was disappointed with the ending and wished it offered a tad bit more resolution, and dove it into Laurie's mindset a bit more.

I was on the fence about whether or not Jacob was guilty until Hope was killed as well, though one thing did catch my attention about the Rifkin case -- did you notice that when the jogger that initially found Ben's body testified, she recalled every detail of the morning and what happened? I found that incredibly suspicious and began to suspect her at that moment. I feel like if I'd stumbled across a dead body, I'd have been so disheveled to recall months later what song had been playing at that moment, and all those other details. She was the one covered in his blood, too.

Another thing that crossed my mind was that the mom killed both victims -- both to protect/guard her son. Ben had been bullying Jacob, then just before Hope went missing, it was noted that she went and sat next to Laurie. Perhaps Laurie got a tinge of jealously about this other woman entering her son's life?

That all said, of course, there are many details that negate this, such as the blood on Jacob the day hope went missing, along with Laurie's intense worry about Jacob potentially being Ben's killer. But just a thought...


Vikki I think Laurie knew all along that her son was guilty, but loves her son and decided to protect him. Throughout the story, you hear about her deteriorating appearance, because she knew and covering this up through the trial was killing her. When Hope's body is found in Jamaica, Laurie knows her son is a killer and will keep on killing.


message 30: by Heather (new)

Heather H. Yeah but--Yeah BUt; perhaps there are better ways of dealing with it than ramming into a guard rail.

the frustrating thing for me big time was why *neither Parent* confronted the damn kid!

They both treated him like a hero after the trial and not ONCE said--"Hey--you know burying a DOG ALIVE is wrong doncha?"


message 31: by Heather (new)

Heather H. The ending was very frustrating as they never once bothered to confront their own son--a monster who tortured animals and killed more than once. Why no scene with the doctor confroting him or something?

Instead to have this disconnected slap dash car wreck/murder from the one character we didn't know her inner dialouge was rude and unfair.


Trasa I actually thought the ending was very good. I liked that we didn't have a window into Laurie, and thought that the book gave you clues as to what was going to happen. I wasn't shocked when Laurie started speeding. She was so focused on talking, her whole life, as a way of fixing things, and then she realized no amount of talking was going to fix Jacob. So she acted.


Cindy Dave wrote: "That it was an easy way to end the book without a definite resolution.
We are left without knowing if Jacob was guilty or not, left to reach our own decision."


At first I thought the ending sucked. But the more I thought about it, I realized that in real life there are seldom clear answers to anything. Very little in life is black and white, and we are almost always left to draw our on conclusions on issues. In that way, I realized the ending was brilliant. Much more realistic than having it come to a definite conclusion.


Cindy Jenn wrote: "I loved the ending, particularly because it showed the interplay between the emotional court of "public opinion" and the objective evidence. We see it all the time - the public knows very little a..."

totally agree!


message 35: by Dawn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dawn Janice wrote: "Ironically, IF Andy had not thrown away the knife, and if it did prove Jacob's guilt, then they would have used the murder gene defense and hoped for psychiatric help or at least only 20 years in p..."

Yep. Funny how when you are reading, you don't necessarily realize how important what you just read is, until much later.

I felt for Laurie too. Seemed like she was getting no support and just knew he did it, and she did not know what else to do. I think Andy being a DA made it particularly hard, because his job sort of de-sensitized him, to all of it. Law is a puzzle and you don't necessarily have to believe your client. Andy just knew that he had to get his son off.


Candace Victoria wrote: "I thought this book was fantastic.
For me the ending was clear ,as I hoped it wasn't Jacob, but knew all the evidence pointed to him. I felt as though it was scary as heck that you could love and ..."

What evidence? I think he would have walked whether he was guilty or not because of the lack of evidence that is so apparently pointed out. Whether he got convicted he would have a appealed and at a grand jury I think he would have walked.


Trasa Candace, that was the really scary part. Everything pointed to Jacob's guilt, circumstantial though it might be, and Laurie had to live with the idea that she was harboring a serial killer in her home. She knew nothing would ever be proven, and that he wouldn't stop. She couldn't take it. So she took on the responsibility to end his life, taking away the chance that he would ever do it again. The sad part is that she lived, and so has to live an entire lifetime with the guilt of killing her only child, monster though he might have been.


message 38: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Ross I liked the ending - and overall , I really enjoyed the book! As another reader posted, I thought about it for days after reading it. As a parent, it is hard to think that imperfections in your child could be from the way you raised them - scary! I thought it was fishy that the child-molester ended up confessing before killing himself - I never really thought it was him. But once jacob's dad went to confront his imprisoned father about the "suicide-confession ", that was an ah-ha moment for me. Then the girl disappeared at the resort!

The mom did what she thought was best for her son - to protect him.

I really like how the author kept Somethings unwritten - I would recommend this book to others!


message 39: by Jeanette (last edited Jun 29, 2013 05:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeanette Wow, I am somewhat taken aback that some readers thought this ending was "up in the air" re his actual guilt.

Ditto what Trasa, Kim, and Vikki posted (oh yes, Vikki- exactly the crux- in your May 28 post). Laurie knew he was guilty and knew that her son had no conscience at the end. After having suspected it too- early on.

There is no cure for this condition, Heather. He had a personality disorder and he was a sociopath in at least 3 categories within the DSM-V. Would being kept in lockdown (like Hannibal Lector)for 70 more years be better for him?

Excellent book. Laurie was brave and a hero. Like a soldier that throws himself on the live grenade to save the platoon. She saved dozens of lives. The average serial killer with this psychological condition can kill several hundred innocent people in their lifetime. Most of those victims are also complete strangers- just like that little girl from the beach.

Mothers know. They love, but they know.

I thought about this for days too, I have children- 3 of them- and all are past 38 now. Love does not change severe realities, nor their consequences.


message 40: by Jeanette (last edited Jun 29, 2013 05:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeanette It is more upsetting to me, that some here just want to see a happy ending so much that you will seek repeatedly the "out" or excuse, or evidence that just "doesn't" equate to a flat out "guilty".

A total rationalization so that your worldview of everyone being redeemable or fixable is a true one.
That's what that reveals. Optimism beyond reality is delusional itself.

Right now I see that rampant. Especially since we have so many lost cultures of violence right now. And not just in underclasses of Europe and North America, either.

In real life, people get killed every day by other people and there is not a resolution. Nor definitive proof by law either. Some never even get charged. It is not a 60 minute resolution to closure tv slot world of justice served. Not even close.

Laurie was a superb human being. Rare. Fabulous book, and a real world ending.


message 41: by Serese (new)

Serese Of course, Jacob was a killer... a good mother ALWAYS knows the truth about her children. She desperately tried to get her husband to talk with her, to tell the truth. However, he was incapable, because he had the gene for "violence," never was violent w/anybody, but that also gave him the capacity to DENY. Mothers with eyes wide open, always know the truth. Laurie couldn't live with her desperate love for her son, her fear of him, and the understanding that he had killed two people and would continue to kill. Laurie is our hero, clearly... she got the whole story. After all, with Dr. Vogel's diagnoses of their son... how could anyone think he wasn't criminal. Sad, but true. Although, this didn't make me a believer of a "killer's gene," it does remind me how nature vs. nurture, will always be humanity's question.


message 42: by Serese (new)

Serese please comment on my take, I do think it ia absolute Universal Truth


Judith This was a perfect ending to this book; the whole idea is to make you think, not only whilst reading the book, but long after. Brilliant writing - one of my favourites.


Jeanette Serese, most good Mothers know, I agree with you completely. Definitions of "good" may vary, but today with so much advanced education, there are rationalizations that continue to go on and on- and I've seen modern Mothers who self-deny REAL behaviors nearly continually. And there always seems to be a reason to make the perpetrator the "victim" now. Reasons of psyche or being a victim or some such condition that no "blame" can be put on the Jacobs.

Love can also construct blinders, and this Mother refused to wear them. What courage to face this horror and up the solution upon herself!


Christine I agree that Jacob was guilty, and his mother knew he was guilty because she always suspected that there was something not quite right with him since preschool. The dad couldn't accept it, and that little doubt within her kept the both of them from doing the 'right' and more difficult thing... confronting him. The dad couldn't accept it because it would lead to the exposure of his family tree, one of violence and murder.


message 46: by Heather (new)

Heather H. I hear you Christine; but frankly no excuse for it (not confronting their own kid) none. Because they never bothered to really confront him or find the truth the other girl dies. Her family devastated; her life, her future gone....

All cause this dad couldn't accept it?

Inexcusable.


Christine I agree that it is inexcusable. It is not unbelievable. As a teacher, I see parents who defend offensive and even cruel behavior.


Trasa Christine, as a fellow teacher, aren't you amazed when parents completely ignore reality about their child and live in some dream world with a perfect child? I am always amazed by the ability to compartmentalize when it comes to someone's child.


Christine Yes! That's why the father in this book is sadly very real to me. He has been compartmentalizing and minimizing Jake's behavior since preschool. I am sure you and I could share stories that would make others shake their heads in disbelief.
Likewise, in the news we often see parents who refuse to accept the reality of criminal and violent children. They defend this behavior, mistaking their defense and excuses for love and loyalty.
Many times, parents do this because (I believe) they feel it is somehow a reflection on them. In this book, the father even admits he is fearful that the son has inherited this gene. The mother is also questioning what they have done as parents to cause this. In the end, they failed to confront him. Their one attempt ended when he said "There is nothing wrong with me!"
Maybe he suspected he was "different" too.


Maria I am surprised that some here refer to Laurie as a hero and a great person.

Yes, she stopped a killer. But she knew something "wasn't right" about Jacob since PRE-SCHOOL!! Why did she not do something about it before two people were killed and families destroyed?

So what if her husband wasn't on board. Do it anyway. Both parents should be prosecuted for allowing these things to happen both to and by their son!


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