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Defending Jacob
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September 2020: Psychological > [Poll Ballot] Defending Jacob by William Landay - 4 stars

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Joy D | 3197 comments Defending Jacob by William Landay - 4 stars - My Review

In 2007 in Newton, Massachusetts, a fourteen-year-old boy is murdered on his way to school. Jacob Barber, a classmate and son of Assistant District Attorney Andrew Barber, is accused of the crime. Another suspect gets put aside, perhaps mistakenly, when the investigation focuses on Jacob. The plot revolves around Jacob’s trial, the family’s experiences, and a grand jury hearing whose purpose remains unclear until near the end of the book.

There is a lot going on in this book. The story weaves together a number of threads, including Andrew’s estranged relationship with his father, multiple conversations with a psychiatrist, whether Andrew Barber engaged in any conflicts of interest, Andrew’s unauthorized pursuit of an alternate suspect, and internal politics in the DA’s office. It explores themes of family loyalty, parental responsibility, and nature versus nurture.

Dramatic tension is maintained by the ongoing doubts about Jacob’s guilt. It is compounded by the torments experienced by his family after he is accused of murder. Andrew Barber serves as narrator, interspersed with excerpts from the trial transcript. Andrew maintains a steadfast belief in his son’s innocence. The trial conveys evidence in the manner of a true court case, alternating between the prosecution and the defense. This works well in keeping the reader guessing.

I was drawn into the story, closely paying attention to every nuance. Its primary strength is not giving anything away too early. The writing is direct. I enjoyed the complexities. I was not overly fond of the ending, but I can understand the reasoning, as it allows the reader to judge the outcome. I listened to the audio book read by Grover Gardner. His voice fits the material. He reads quickly and clearly.


David Putnam (davidputnam) | 279 comments Great review. I really enjoyed the book. The ending was a real shocker. :-)


message 3: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments Have you seen the adaptation with Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery? I haven't read the book, but I really enjoyed the 8 (I think) episode adaptation. From what I read online, the ending is similar to the book, but a little bit different. After watching the show, I thought about reading the book, but I wondered if the show would ruin the book for me.


Joy D | 3197 comments David wrote: "Great review. I really enjoyed the book. The ending was a real shocker. :-)"
Thanks, David, definitely unexpected.


Joy D | 3197 comments Jenni Elyse wrote: "Have you seen the adaptation with Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery? I haven't read the book, but I really enjoyed the 8 (I think) episode adaptation. From what I read online, the ending is similar ..."
I have not seen the adaptation. I had heard they changed the ending.


message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8282 comments The setting and the miniseries adaptation was at the end of my street. I live in one of the houses at one of the cold spring park entrances. They filmed at her elementary school and the street where I work, not to mention the houses on our street in the woods themselves. It was exciting. But I haven’t seen it yet.


Joy D | 3197 comments Amy wrote: "The setting and the miniseries adaptation was at the end of my street. I live in one of the houses at one of the cold spring park entrances. They filmed at her elementary school and the street wher..."
Very cool, Amy!


message 8: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments That’s cool! Did you see Chris Evans?!


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8282 comments In Snatches....


message 10: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments Jealous


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