Book 75: Salem Falls

TITLE: Salem Falls
AUTHOR: Jodi Picoult
STARTED: October 3, 2006
FINISHED: October 5, 2006
PAGES: 434
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Several miles into his journey, Jack St. Bride decided to give up his former life.

SUMMARY: [From] 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 ad 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 teeage girls have formed a coven that is crossing the line between amusment 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.

It was on the TBR list and I saw it at the library.

THOUGHTS: After much thought, I have decided that this book was rather formulaic - but you don't know it's formulaic as you read it. The reason being... everything just has this tone of newness. Or, it could be, that everything is so forumalic on its own that something new is created.

The formulas are:
1. Man wrongly convicted of sexual assault by your girl who has a huge crush on him.
2. Man starts life over, falls in love with troubled woman.
3. Man's past comes back to haunt him.
4. History is destined to repeat itself.
5. High School girl takes revenge when spurned.
6. No one admits to being a witch.
7. Law & Order episode

All of these formulas together create a read that is highly entertaining and engrossing. It took me all of two days to read this book because I refused to put it down at night. There was just something about all of the aspects of the plot that just clung to you. This meant I went to work two days in a row with about 4 hours of sleep. God bless coffee.

I will say that Picoult throws in just enough twists to keep you guessing. That is probably another reason why the book does not seem formulaic. While I usually can guess twists, or feel stupid when they're revealed and I've missed the hints - there was one bit here that came out of nowhere and, yet, it seemed the only possible explination.

The inventive use of tried-and-true plot devices, coupled with great scene description make Salem Falls a damn addictive read. Not a great read, mind you, more like Christmas day present unwrapping. You want it all at once, but then feel a bit let down when it's all over.

MISCELLANEOUS: The book itself was shifted (read: slanted and not square) and, as a sometimes book repairer, I had the hardest time not taking this book into work and re-pressing.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to the library (that's right, I went on a four book binge the last time I was there)
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: The Gladiator's Honor by Michelle Styles
RN: College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex Kittens, and Coeds, Then and Now by Lynn Peril