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Could Have Been So Much More
Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult
Member Name: woozle
Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult
Date: 06/05/10, updated on 06/05/10 (66 review reads)
Advantages: A powerful subject
Disadvantages: didn't live up to expectations.
A Perfect Match is the story of how one couple dealt with the horror of the sexual abuse of their young child.
The central characters of the book are Nina and Caleb Frost, their five year old son Nathaniel and Nina's best friend, Detective Patrick Ducharme.
The main story comes with a side order of unrequited love that does little to enhance its depth and I couldn't help thinking that it was little more than a fluffy filling to wad out what should have been a powerful tale in itself.
Jody Picoult steers the reader through the extremes of emotion that the discovery that their child has suffered sexual abuse, evokes in the parents and particularly the mother, an assistant district attorney in Maine, New England.
I say "steers" because I felt remarkably untouched by the emotions that Nina was feeling and as a mother myself I can barely imagine the dark place of horror and pain of such an event, but I have to say that Judy Picoult didn't take me there. This is not to say that I think her a poor writer, quite the contrary. She writes some beautifully descriptive text but the character of Nina left me cold.
The book is primarily about the rights and wrongs of a mother's actions in doing what she feels she has to do, in order to protect her child. Nina, however, appeared to be a rather hard and calculating figure and I didn't find it easy to empathise with her or her actions at all. Strange because as a mother, I know that there are no limits as to the lengths I would go to protect my children.
The father, Caleb, despite being a somewhat weak individual (who seems to tolerate his wife's close friendship with another man who is clearly in love with her, without a second thought) is genuinely close to his son but we don't really get to understand what it is that anchors this successful woman to him nor do we get more than a passing glance at his feelings after the discovery of the abuse.
Although I was quickly hooked early on in the book I did find the middle tedious, the court case, all 60 odd pages is little more than a rehash of the story so far and a courtroom drama, gripping or otherwise, it is not. This is perhaps partly due to the nature of the case. It was academic as to whether the victim was shot and by whom as this was never in doubt and I found that I didn't really care about the verdict by the end.
The abuser's story was not even touched upon and I can't help thinking that there was a missed opportunity here to bring the story to life. I was left wondering what sort of man he was and how he felt about himself.
The great pity is that there were some surprising facts, for example the DNA thread was fascinating and there was a glimpse of a tale in the bone marrow donation that could have been developed. In short there was a huge amount to build a story around here but the author chose to concentrate on the one issue which for me, just did not work.
The ending of the book was almost predictable and I didn't feel that there were any great surprises there. A pity really, because I feel that there is a great book to be had on this topic but sadly this isn't it.
Summary: Someone could have made great detective book out of it.