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Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult

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Author: Jodi Picoult / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 15 August 2013 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division / Title: Plain Truth / ISBN 13: 9781444754377 / ISBN 10: 1444754377

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      06.07.2011 11:50
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      good book - get a copy!

      This is a review of the 2004 book 'Plain Truth' by Jodi Picoult. It's taken me a while to read this, due to the fact I have an active 7 month old baby, a big sewing project on the go and perhaps the storyline was a bit slow going for me!

      The book centres on Amish girl Katie Fisher and the mysterious circumstances of a baby born in her parent's barn. Her mother is unable to have any more children and so the finger points at Katie as the potential mother. An unmarried and religious girl, it's dangerous for Katie to admit that she had a baby boy in case her family disown her. Further sadness as the baby dies shortly after birth and the book seeks to find out how it all happened.

      I had seen a TV programme about the Amish teens recently who have the chance to leave the religion before they are baptised and (in their eyes) go out and have a wild time for a bit. This interested me enough to want to read this book.

      As I mentioned earlier, I found it a bit slow going but it was really informed about the Amish people and their way of life, so the pace of the book matches the content really. Some of the information covered was a little repetitive but it was well explained and I suppose the repeat comes with the way the court case is presented.

      Whilst Katie is an honest girl, she only releases information bit by bit which keeps the suspense of the story going. Her Attourney Ellie is a distant cousin (although they never met before the case) and is sent to live with the family under the terms of Katie's bail from court.

      You spend the entire book doubting whether Katie actually killed her baby child and whilst it seems unlikely, the clever way it's written makes you question her. This is typical of Picoult's initriguing style of writing and is, as her other books are (that I've read) set around a court case.

      A sub plot to the story is Ellie's life and her mini meltdown she is having in her relationship. She gets in touch with an old boyfriend and their flame is reignighted on the backdrop of the Fisher farm. Ellie dabbles with her faith and joins in with Amish life as much as she can, even attending their church in her role as Katie's keeper and making a small patchwork quilt in their spare time.

      It's not my typical read but I do like to intersperse my reading with Picoult's books. I have a few more on the bookcase waiting to be read but I don't like to read them back to back or they get a bit 'samey' and they do take me longer to read than some other books I enjoy.

      I would recommend this read. It will have you yearning for the simple life and is sympathetic towards the Amish faith and their life choices. They don't use modern technology or electricity other than generator for essential jobs (such as farming) so I doubt any will be reading this review!

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      23.05.2011 20:33
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      Well written, emotional, brilliant story and character development. Definitely worth a read!

      As you may have noticed from other reviews, I am a big Jodi Picoult fan, and am slowly working my way through reviewing her books. The latest one that I've managed to get the chance to sit down and read is 'Plain Truth', and I have to say, this is has now become one of my favourite books by Jodi.

      ~A Brief Outline of the Story~

      Katie Fisher is 18, and at the opening of the book when the reader meets her she has just given birth in secret. Something that makes Katie a little different from your 'normal' teenage mother is that she is Amish. Having a baby out of wedlock is a sin. When this baby is found dead the next morning and Katie refuses to admit even giving birth, let alone what has happened to the newborn, a police investigation is launched with Katie the prime suspect. Katie is accused of first degree murder.

      Early on in the book we also meet Ellie. Ellie is a big time defence lawyer, who wins a huge amount of the cases she takes on. Feeling the need for a break from her city lifestyle she goes and stays with her relative - Leda, who also happens to be Katie's aunt. Leda begs Ellie to help Katie, and after originally declining, Ellie takes on Katie's case. In order to meet the bail conditions Ellie has to move on to Katie's parents farm, which also means adopting many of the Amish ways of life.

      The book is split into two parts. The first part focuses on Katie and Ellie's relationship, how Ellie goes about compiling evidence to use in her case and how she adapts to living on the Fisher's farm, and teachers the reader a lot about the Amish way of life. The second part of the book focuses more on the court case. Will the jury find Katie guilty or not guilty of first degree murder? Of course I'm not going to tell you the final verdict in this review! You'll have to read the book!

      ~My Opinion~

      As already said at the beginning of the review I loved this book and it has become one of my favourite Jodi Picoult novels. But why?

      Well, first off, the story itself is brilliant, and is written really well. Starting off so tragically with the death of a newborn in the first few pages the novel develops further to be not only a tragedy, but a story about love, about religion, about family, as well as leading in to the courtroom drama that follows. Jodi's style of writing means that we see the events that happens from a number of characters perspectives throughout. A number of chapters in the book are also written totally from Ellie's perspective. I found this very enlightening as it's in these chapters that we really see the way Ellie adapts both as a person and how she is finding as adapting to the Amish ways of life. Being a big city lawyer there is a huge difference in lifestyle. This is discussed really well throughout the book.

      As well as really feeling I got to know the character of Ellie, I also felt that the reader gets to know the other characters in the book really well too. I really felt that I got to know Katie, and I could see her personal struggles and understand them from her point of view. Some other worthy of note characters include Katie's parents. Her dad is a very strict Amish and believes in following the church as closely as possible. At points he does come across as a bit of an evil-ish character in the eyes of someone not from the Amish way of life (how could he put church before his children?), but I felt his character is developed enough for him to lose this label, and that the reader can begin to understand his point of view too. Sarah, Katie's mother, is also a well developed character and we learn a lot about the Amish way of life through her. Samuel, Katie's boyfriend, is another well developed character. He has to do a lot of thinking and has to decide what is right. We also learn what it is like to be 'shunned' from the Amish community through the character of Jacob, Katie's older brother (who has left the community to study). Through Jacobs story we learn why it was so important to Katie to keep her pregnancy a secret - but in the American court system hiding the pregnancy, and then the baby being discovered dead does not look good for Katie...

      With so many well developed characters doing a lot of soul searching within themselves, you can't help but think 'what would I do in that position?' This is something Jodi does brilliantly in all her novels. The way the story is written leaves the reader constantly guessing what is going to happen next, and as a result is a definite page turner. As in her other books there is a bit of a Jodi twist at the end. I would definitely recommend this book (and have done!).

      I bought my copy in practically new condition from a local charity shop, however Plain Truth is currently on Amazon for £4.19 with free delivery. Alternatively you can buy from other sellers on Amazon from £3.68 new and £1.07 used but delivery charges may apply.

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        12.08.2010 22:04
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        A modern moral tale set in the amish community

        I am a total Jodi Picoult fan and this is one of my all time fave books in the range. The plain truth- Is a book that i just couldnt put down until i knew the truth at the heart of the story.
        A totally gripping read full of teenage drama, crime and moral dilemas.
        The story takes place in what the world conciders to be both a very secretive and close knit community, so you get a small insight what life is like within this religion.
        It is set within the Amish community, a place without crime that is suddenly rocked to its core by the acts of not outsiders but those from within. The book centres on the consequences of a teenage pregnancy and the tragic results due to naivety and religious reasoning. The book opens with death of the new born child and this triggers the police investigation into finding out what really happened to the baby, and why.
        If you have read other books by this author you will know of her love for keeping you guessing and the various twists and turns that this book takes certainly does this.
        This book covers things from, Infanticide, the amish community and religion, love and family life and teenage drama. Its a very moving story that keeps you guessing and thinking from the first page until the last. Jodi picoult books always seem to make you ask yourself - what would i do in that situation. A modern and fast paced crime novel set in what seem like another world.

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          13.07.2010 21:23
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          An intriguing read - recommended.

          My mom got me into Jodi Picoult books, and this was the first one I read. It follows the case of a young Amish teenager accused of murdering her baby, detailing the constraints of Amish life in the modern world, and the conflict between this puritan religion and twenty first century law.

          I did find the detail of the Amish lifestyle absolutely fascinating, having known nothing about it beforehand, and the story which intertwines the lives of the young accused girl, her family and her attorney is interesting and believable. It does tackle the conflicts between religion and state sensitively, and keeps you guessing right to the very end on the outcome of the trial, and the guilt of the accused protagonist.

          The book has a nice, easy to read style - the perfect kind of book for relaxing on a beach on holiday, and doesn't require too much concentration. I enjoyed the story, and the insight into a completely different culture and way of life, and reading this book inspired me to buy a few more of Jodi Picoult's books. Overall, worth a read.

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          24.03.2010 16:18
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          Another well written book from Jodi Picoult.

          ~Author~
          Jodi Picoult 43 is the author of seventeen best selling books. She has won numerous awards for her writing. She currently lives in New Hampshire with her husband and there three children.

          ~Cover~
          The picture is by Jonathan West and shows an Amish girl in a chair holding a pair of blue booties. The title and author name are very prominent and the blurb on the back is enough to get you interested in picking the book up. The book has 451 pages which is pretty hefty as all Jodi novels are.

          ~Story~
          The story is based around Katie Fisher 18 who has grown up in an Amish Community in Paradise USA.
          Katies father is a very strict Amish man who has already banished his eldest son Jacob from the Community for wanting to continue his education beyond the 8th grade level. Katies mother Sarah sends Katie away to visit her brother at college a few times a year behind her husbands back.
          While visiting Jacob she meets Adam who is Jacobs friend, flatmate and Landlord. Katie and Adam fall in love. When Adam has to move to Scotland to continue his research Katie decides to sleep with him. This leads to the point at which the book begins.
          Katie has ignored the fact that she is pregnant and prays to the Lord to take this burden away from her. Katie sneaks out and gives birth in the cow shed and then falls asleep with the child in her arms. When she wakes the baby is gone Katie decides her prayers have been answered and goes back into the house and carries on with her every day life.
          When the body is found the police are called in and after a small amount of questioning it is obvious to everyone except Katie that the child is hers and she is arrested.
          It is now the job of Ellie Hathaway, Katies cousin and a lawyer, to step in and make sure Katie is not convicted of the crime. Which is quite a difficult job as Katie feels she needs to confess even though she is innocent so that she can be punished and forgiven.

          ~Conclusion~
          This is a well written book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Jodi is a good narrator and easily transports you into Katies shoes. She explains all the legal terms well, you are not left feeling puzzled as with some crime novels. The book has many twists and turns and the ending is a complete surprise. The book club questions at the back are good I always like to read them and think about them as it helps me to digest the book.
          I will be reading her newest novel House Rules when I get a chance.

          ~Fansite~
          www.jodipicoult.com

          Thanks for reading.

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            07.01.2010 17:42
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            One of Picoult's best novels

            I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and I have to admit that I was excited to find two of her books I hadn't yet read on offer in Asda recently and one of them was Plain Truth.

            Plain Truth is the story of Katie Fisher. Katie is a young Amish girl who becomes pregnant when unmarried, which according to her strict religious background is considered a sin. Fearing what might happen, young Katie Fisher gives birth in secret in the middle of the night in their family's barn and she does the only thing she knows how to do in the face of adversity - she prays.

            When Katie wakes up after falling asleep with her new born son in her arms, her prayers appeared to have been answered and the infant was gone. What had happened to the baby boy she wanted so much to keep, had god's will be done as she had prayed for?!

            Maybe so, but that morning the baby is found dead in the barn, wrapped in a mans shirt. But how did it get there? How did Katie's young son die? Not an easy thing to find out when the young Amish girl firstly denies ever having a baby, then says that she cannot remember what happened after the birth when it is proven she is the mother of the child.

            Is young Amish girl Katie Fisher a murderer, who killed her own child? Or is there some other force at work in the death of her new born son?
            That is the decision that lies with the jury when Katie Fisher is taken to court and charged with the murder of her new born son.

            Plain Truth has to be one of my favourite Jodi Picoult novels that I read so far, it gripped me from the first chapter. Picoult is never one to shy away from a controversial subject, and Amish murder trials would definately be one of those subects.

            The novel gives a fantastic insight into the lives of the Amish people, from their belief system, hard worth ethic and the ways that they deal with sinning within the church. I found the lives of the Amish thoroughly interesting and especially the way that Picoult writes from Ellie's point of view about being let into the Amish community.

            I found myself flitting from believing that Katie must have killed her son, due to not realising who else could possibly have commited the murder, to thinking that there was no way that someone who is portrayed by so many people in her community as a gentle person who is so caring to others, could possibly have murdered her own child. When more and more information about Katie's life, her personal fears, her relationship with her brother Jacob and her day to day life living in the Amish community, I got more and more confused as to what might have happened to the newborn. It definately keeps you guessing right until the very end of the story.

            The characters of Ellie and Katie were both very well written, and I really connected with both characters, especially feeling so sorry for Katie when she is torn between the religious beliefs of herself and her family to always admit to anythingyou are accused of and lying to keep her secrets to herself which is against the Amish churches belief.

            The character of Samuel is someone I found intriging, he is so quiet and strong, and no matter what happens even though he tries to move on from Katie the love of his life, he is pulled back to her by some force that he seems unable to control. Anyone who has ever been in love with someone who seems to be like an anchor will relate to Samuel's love for his girlfriend Katie Fisher.

            Anyone who wants a novel to keep them thinking as well as warming their heart in this freezing weather should definately check out Picoult's novel Plain Truth. A brilliantly interesting subject, with some characters who really get into your head and your heart.

            The book is priced at £7.99 but can be bought for £1.99 new at amazon marketplace.

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              06.10.2009 14:10
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              Picoult does it again, a fantastic book full of love and drama

              I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult, having read many of her books I was excited when I found this one in Tesco for just £6. Similarly to most of Jodi Picoults books, the storyline is based around a court case. There is also a strong story of love, which is alike to many of her books.

              The book is set in America, based on the Amish community. The brilliant thing about all of her books is the amount of research carried out which is a big part of making her books such an interesting read. This one in particular, the research on the Amish community is fantastic, enabling many people who have heard of the Amish community, but do not have any knowledge or respect for how they live, understand.

              The book begins with a birth scene; at this point the reader does not know who the mother is (Katie). Once this information along with the death of the infant is given the twists and turns begin. First of all Katie who is only 18 claims to remember nothing of the evening, and even denies the birth when medics are telling her they can tell she has had a baby! The second main female character is Katie (the lawyer), it is a wonderful background storyline of how these two women both of different ages and different backgrounds are brought together and a friendship begins. There are parallels between them both and their love lives, which they work through together.

              As with the majority of all of Picoults books, the second half of the book is a court case. Which is very exciting, I had to stop myself from skimming pages to find out the verdict. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone.

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                05.10.2009 22:37
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                A really good read! Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

                The story details the tale of Katie Fisher, an unmarried girl on an Amish farm. She is found to be the mother of a dead baby found hidden in barn. As the plot unravels it is found that the baby was not stillborn but actually died a while after birth, and as such it falls into a murder investigation and Katie is accused of the crime. In usual Picoult fashion the story surrounds the court case, the trial and a twist in the story leading to the conviction.

                This was the second novel I read by Picoult and by far my favourite. It really gets to the heart of the Amish community. The plot unravels slowly and keeps you guessing the whole way through.

                It is really heartbreaking but interesting to read at the same time. I found it to be a really good insight to the lives and customs of Amish communities. There is something quaint and intriguing about their lives that Picoult caputures and makes seem romantic and other worldly.

                This is on my list of favourite books, it is well written, easy to read, innovative, compelling story. Picoult is really clever at writing and this is one of her best works.

                I found this book very addictive and couldn't put it down. I would class this as a must read to anyone!

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                  12.09.2009 18:16
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                  Fantastic insight to another way of life

                  I am always impressed by the amount of research that Jodi Picoult puts into her books and Plain Truths was no different. The storyline was very good but what is impressive is the detail that Picoult includes when describing an Amish family. It allows the reader to have a true insight into what life in an Amish village is like.

                  Plain Truth starts with the discovery of a dead baby in an Amish village, the accussed is a young unmarried Amish girl who is assumed the baby's mother. The book follows Ellie an attorney who chooses to defend the young girl and to do this she has to learn the way of the Amish. The truth is shocking.

                  Picoult writes the novel so well. At the begining I was quite unaware of how an Amish lived and even more ignorant about their beliefs. As the story unfolded I became more and more educted about the characters and the lifestyle and really began to empathise with them. Each chapter unravels something new about the mystery, and I still wasnt sure what the outcome of the book would be, until it was revealed at the end. I was very impressed by the twist as usually I figure it out. However, anything was possible with this book, so I was never certain.

                  The only downside would be that it was slightly dragged out about how Ellie (attorney) lived on the farm and I felt it was ages before the Amish girl went to court. However without this I wouldnt have learnt so much about the Amish way of living

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                  10.08.2009 21:37
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                  Dig deep to question your beliefs.

                  I love the Jody Picoult books, and slowly work my way through all of them. I rely on friends lending them to me and getting what is available out of the library. In the back of the books they advertise others she has written, and when I saw she had written one about some Amish people I really wanted to read it as I am intrigued about their culture. I know Jody does tons of research, so knew it would fulfil my enquirings! As soon as this book became available in the library I got it out right away.

                  Plain truth takes its name from the lifestyle that Amish people lead, they claim to be plain and have no wants or desires except to work very hard. The book definitely told me lots I didnt know about the Amish people, so greatly solved my curious nature. All the Jody Picoults books that I have read follow the same storyline. They involve a courtroom drama and a battle between what is right and wrong, morally and legally.

                  I dont want to ruin the storyline of the book so I will just give a quick summary. The Amish familys are notoriously trouble free. A dead child, only a few hours old is found in a barn on a farm and the police get called to solve the crime. They trace it down to a girl who completely denies the allegations even though medical evidence shows she has recently given birth.

                  A hot shot lawyer from the nearby town takes the case on through some family connections, and has to battle to find out the truth. The amish people dont want her around as they think they should leave fate for god to decide. The book is a learning experience for all main characters involved.

                  Overall this is a great book. I loved the moral dilemma, and the battle to decide what is right and wrong. I have to have a break between all books by this author as they are quite similar, and I can get fed up with the storyline, but with a suitable break in between then they make a fantastic read.

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                  08.08.2009 00:43
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                  Another Picoult classic. You want to read it!

                  I began this book, already a Jodi Picoult fan, having read 2 books previously and I wasn't disappointed. The title 'Plain Truth' refers to the Amish community or 'Plain' people. Katie, an 18 year old Amish girl has a baby out of wedlock, and the baby doesn't survive. She is being charged with murder, an unheard of occurance for Amish folk.
                  Ellie, a top lawyer ends up representing her, reluctantly, and has to live with the Amish people as a condition of Katie's bail. As the story unfolds, there are twists and turns which bring in the characters of Jacob, Katie's outcast brother, Samuel, Katie's Amish suitor and Adam, a young professor she meets outwith her own people.
                  Add in the occasional ghost sighting, parallel love stories between the lawyer and a psychiatrist and a healthy dose of family issues simmering away makes for a book that is really difficult to put down. Thank goodness I read it in the summer holidays and my kids were occupied playing as I was indulging some slight neglect of my motherly duties as I devoured this read!
                  Jodi Picoult writes in a much classier way than your normal chick-lit and as usual her storylines are very well researched.

                  Top book!

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                    14.01.2009 17:26
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                    A thrilling murder story in an Amish town

                    Have you ever stayed in a place where there is no electricity? That means no television, music, and computers. A place where people don't have a telephone, don't use cars.
                    Hard to imagine nowadays, but for some people this is still the case and life is very different for them, although many are very happy and it could be argued that we are the losers not them! This is about the Plain Truth.

                    The Book
                    ***********
                    I must be a Christian child
                    Gentle, patient, meek and mild;
                    Must be honest, simple, true
                    In my words and actions too....
                    Must remember, God can view
                    All I think, and all I do.

                    After the acknowledgements the book starts with this Amish school verse.

                    The story itself begins with 18year old Katie Fisher dreaming of her little sister Hannah who had died previously, when suddenly she wakes and leaves her bedroom to creep outside to the barn where she delivers a baby - all this on the first page. I was gripped at once. This seemed like a very fast moving story. The Plain Truth is a book about some people in Pennsylvania's Amish country, people who call themselves "Plain".

                    On the back cover we are told "A shocking murder shatters the picturesque calm of Pennsylvania's Amish country - and tests the heart and soul of the lawyer who steps in to defend the young woman at the centre of the storm..."

                    We meet the Fisher family, Sarah who is the mother, Aaron the father, Elam who is the granddad, and later Sarah's sister Leda, plus someone else who was shunned by the family. Samuel and Levi are local Amish boys who work on the farm. Obviously the police are involved and a part of the book is set in the courtroom, and Katie is lucky to have the services of a big city attorney who was disillusioned and had come to stay with Leda and also a psychiatrist who is called in to check Katie's mental state. Amish people do not believe in instigating lawsuits. At one point Ellie has to ask the Judge on behalf of her client to adjourn early as she has the milking to do! And there are some other amusing and anxious moments.

                    The description of the rooms, the farm, the food, the other Amish people are so marvellous that I would recognise these places if I was ever transported to East Paradise, which is the name of the town. Within a short sentence we can picture the kaleidoscope of colour, Kelly green corn, red silos and a sky as blue as a robin's egg and the smell of honeysuckle, the sweat of horses and the rich tang of overturned earth. We learn about how the farm is run, starting at 4.00am when the cows were milked, very hard work with no real electricity just a small generator to help with the milk production and the miracle of a heifer being born. The rag rugs on hardwood floors, the quilts over rocking chairs, lace antimacassars on the couch and strangely appliances like washing machines and refrigerators run on gas. The Amish don't want to linked to the outside world so won't link up to the power lines.

                    Ellie has to work very hard to fit in to a very different life style, she has to learn the Amish ways and she discovers the differences of the cultures. Whilst she is coping with this, someone from her past comes back into her life, so that adds a twist to the story.

                    Katie insists she didn't have a baby, but medical proof shows she did, who is the father? I will not spoil the story by telling you and by mentioning the other people involved, you will need to read this book to find out more. There are twists and turns all along the way and a fine web of intrigue is woven. This is a thrilling courtroom drama and family saga and love story all bound into one. I wouldn't recommend this book for someone who has lost a baby as it could be upsetting, but I did enjoy reading it so much that I hardly put it down and that is the Plain Truth.

                    For those of you who have never heard about these people I will include a quote from Wikipedia "The Amish are an Anabaptist Christian denomination in the United States and Canada (Ontario and Manitoba) that are known for their plain dress and limited use of modern conveniences such as automobiles and electricity. The Amish separate themselves from mainstream society for religious reasons: they do not join the military, they draw no Social Security, nor do they accept any form of financial assistance from the government, and many avoid insurance.
                    Most speak a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvanie Deutsch) at home and in church services, and learn English in school. The Amish are divided into separate fellowships consisting of geographical districts or congregations. Each district is fully independent and has its own Ordnung, or set of unwritten rules."

                    I have included this information as it will help you understand parts of the book if you are not familiar with this way of life, I have some knowledge of the Mennonites when I was in Canada, and they are very similar. The girls and ladies wore long dresses and aprons and usually a hat, the boys and men wore dark trousers not at all like what the average man wears now and often with braces and a white shirt. The ladies arrived in the town in a horse and buggy, I was careful not to photograph them as they don't believe in taking photographs as that is against what it says in the Bible. These people are God-fearing and live a simple life. They join together to make quilts for which they are famous and the men will "raise a barn" together, they are very sociable within their group.

                    Jodi Picoult has written several books and My sister's keeper was awarded the Richard and Judy bestseller award.
                    Plain Truth has 448 pages and also an excerpt from My sister's keeper, it costs £6.99 or even less or look out for it in charity shops, or your local library.

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                      03.08.2008 05:15

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                      After reading 8 of Picoult's novels, I've come to expect the plot to be based around a court case. But that is one of the parts that I love about her novels. I never know how it will end. From Greta being almost more loyal than any man, or Alex and Josie being tested around every corner. I will read them all and hope my friends do the same, so I have someone to talk about these thought-provoking topics with. Thank you for filling my free time with non-stop thrill, suspense and emotion.

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                      14.07.2008 13:40
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                      A surprising favorite!

                      As always with Jodi Picoult novels, the book would most probably be classed as a court room drama. I feel personally these books are more character driven dramas, although as always, the story does revolve around a court case central to the story.

                      Plain Truth is the story of a young Amish girl, who finds herself pregnant, and terrified of being outcast keeps this to herself. When she gives birth alone to her baby in the stables of the family farm in the middle of the night, she does the one thing she's been taught to do in times of stress: prays. She prays that this will all just go away, and when she wakes the next morning the baby is gone. When the baby's dead body is found later that morning, she becomes the centre of one of the most controversial court cases. A court case for murdering your baby would be controversial, a court case for an Amish person committing murder would be controversial, couple the two together and you can only begin to imagine.

                      The book is about the implications of growing up in a very different environment than what most of us are used to. It shows how people act when they believe they will be cast out for things even by your own family, that forgiveness is only granted so long as you admit to what you've done, even if you didn't do what you are asking to be forgiven for and most importantly what it's like to live in a world where standing out and being an individual isn't a positive thing but blending into the crowd, working as a team and not accepting self praise is hailed.

                      The point of the book is showing how different environments and belief systems can lead to different actions. It is also about not always taking things at face value and having faith, belief and understanding in other people.

                      The book is very well written and easy to read. It makes it easy for the reader to become enveloped in a world that they may not have known anything of prior to reading. It's very engrossing.

                      I personally did not particularly fancy this Jodi Picoult book. I knew little to nothing about Amish life and culture and didn't particularly have much interest in the book after reading the word "Amish". However, I love Jodi Picoult books and had faith that despite this it was unlikely to be bad, and when I saw this on offer I decided to buy it.

                      Despite initially thinking this would be one of my least favorite Jodi Picoult books I couldn't have been more wrong as this turned out to actually be one of my favorites by her.
                      It really is a fantastic book and I loved it from start to finish. The characters were so well developed and realistic that it was impossible not to get thoroughly involved in their lives. At points it was hard to remember they weren't real. They were all so varied too, with many characters that at points you feel you will hate but as you read the book you learn to understand and with some end up completely loving them. The story itself is a fantastic mix of emotions and an excellent mystery driven plot. I love how it all unraveled and how no matter how much guess work I did along the way, I still had it wrong at every turn, leaving each new revelation as a surprise to me. I loved how the book made you second guess yourself and show that you shouldn't judge people because by the time you loved certain characters, you felt bad for hating them in the first place.

                      The book was interesting from start to finish and didn't take any time at all to get into. From the very first page I was hooked right in, wanting to know what happened next. It was the sort of book that wasn't just relegated to bed times, but was picked up at every given opportunity to read just that little bit more.

                      I found the ending was satisfactory if not a little confusing emotionally. I don't mean it was confusing to understand, and without saying to much (not wanting to spoil anything obviously) it left me not quite knowing how to feel about it, which I think is exactly what Jodi Picoult aimed for, to show us how the characters within the book themselves may have felt. It's this relation to each and every characters emotions and actions that makes this book so compelling.

                      This is by no means a light hearted fun read, the very subject; a murdered baby, should suggest that from the start. That said it wasn't as dark as you'd might expect and there was a lot of warmth and love within the book that made it a lovely read. It was definitely one that made me think, and almost like a learning curve in not only Amish culture, but it made me stop and think about how quick we can be to judge other's (not just people of different cultures, but of everyone around us and their actions) and how wrong and ignorant we can be.

                      It's definitely a book I'll remember, and even now, over a month after reading it I can write the review as clearly as if I read this yesterday, which is quite rare for me. It is clearer in my mind than books I have read since then, which is really saying something.

                      I don't know whether I would re read it as I really don't re read many books, but if I had nothing else to read and a few years had gone by I would definitely enjoy reading it again, although the whole fun of reading is in the not knowing what is coming next so the first time would definitely be the best.

                      The characters (alongside the great, original plot) are what makes this book work so well. They are so varied. It would be easy to say there is someone everyone can relate to here but in fact I think it would be more accurate to say that there are parts of each character that everyone could relate to, even those that you may not think so at first. The characters here are complex and only as the book develops do you really get to know them truly and I love how the character development itself takes you through so many twists and turns. You think you know how you feel about a character and then before you know it you realize how wrong you were.

                      It's hard to say too much without giving much of the story away. If I were to say who I really liked and who I didn't it would perhaps give away the story a little but it's safe to say I at points disliked most of the characters and at points utterly loved and truly cared about some of them, and with others at the very least began to understand where they were coming from.

                      The book is written in a very easy to understand way, with the writing flowing well and with no noticeable flaws. The book is also split up well with many points you can break off from the story, which makes it great for picking up and reading a small bit at a time.

                      With the books religious grounding it may seem at first off putting. I know for me at least the very idea of something based around a religious group was not something I liked the idea of. I'm not at all religious and wasn't interested in reading about it. That said, the fact that most of the main characters and setting are Amish, the book doesn't preach at all, and isn't about the religion at all, but the fact the characters are Amish, directly relates to how they act and feel. It was actually very eye opening and interesting to see this different culture, and how it relates to our own. If the book preached anything at all, it was that a lot can be learnt from the Amish way of life, but that also the Amish could learn from ours. There was no right or wrong defined by the book and it's unlikely to offend anyone of any religion (as far as I know, as I say I'm not religious so I'm not an expert!)

                      The book should appeal to all adults, either female or male but will be of particular appeal to anyone who enjoys strong characters and emotions with a good mystery thrown in along the way. If you have enjoyed other Jodi Picoult books you will without a doubt love this.

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                        12.08.2007 22:00
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                        You'll enjoy every page you read!

                        I have read quite a few of Jodi Picoult's novels before, but having just finished 'Plain Truth' I feel that this was the most moving and compelling by far.

                        In 'Plain Truth' we are taken right into the heart of the Amish (Plain) Community in America, where an eighteen year old girl, katie Fisher, is accused of murdering her new born baby. Katie claims not to remember what happened on July 10th, when in the middle of the night in the family barn she gave birth silently and secretly, only later, after falling asleep, to discover that her newborn has died. Once the baby's body is discovered, there is a police investigation and Katie stands accused of first degree murder. There is a great deal of evidenve to incriminate her, not least is the fact that she concealed her pregnancy from everyone.

                        Meanwhile, the reader has also met Ellie Hathaway. She is a hot shot but somewhat disillusioned defence lawyer, who is taking some time out with a distant relation who also happens to be Katie's aunt. She is the only one in a position to defend Katie, but in order to make bail, she has to agree to live with Katie on her parent's farm and practically adopt the Amish way of life. This is very difficult for a seasoned city girl, but over the course of the novel she comes to appreciate the simple way of life adopted by the Amish.

                        The novel is split into two parts. The first part is the time leading up to the trial. At first Katie and Ellie are unwilling room mates, but as time proceeds, they learn to both like and trust each other. Through this Katie starts to open up to Ellie and piece together what happened that terrible night, and through what she learns, Ellie starts to build her defence. There is also a love interest for Ellie, when she is reunited through the case with Coop, a psychiatrist and former boyfriend.

                        In the second part there is the totally compelling court case driving towards the verdict - it's very hard to predict what that will be (and of course I'm not going to tell you here!) As the prosecution and defence both make their cases though, you find yourself really caught up with the drama and almost living the trial along with Katie and Ellie. It does make for very tense reading at times!

                        I'm not going to say any more about the actual plot, but would definitely urge any Picoult fans to raed this one. I do want to comment on some of the elements which made me like the book though and bits I found interesting.

                        I found the fact that the story was set within the Amish (Plain) community absolutely fascinating and I really learned a lot about that way of life. You learn about the sense of community and what it means to be Amish. You also discover what it is like for an Amish person who does not conform, such as Katie's brother, Jacob. In the Amish way of life, no one continues any studying beyond the eighth grade. However, Jacob had a love of books and learning which inevitably led him to choose further study at university over his Amish life. For this reason, he is 'shunned' and in his father's eyes, he is dead! Jacob's story does also form an integral part of the story. You also learn a lot about the faith, and how if anyone commits a wrong they must confess, then be shunned for a period of time, but ultimately forgiven! This also is so integral to the plot, as these beliefs cause Katie numerous problems, when facing the 'English' system of justice.

                        Another reason I really liked this novel was the brilliant characterisation and the different relationships which are formed. The main two, Katie and Ellie, are very well developed, and as the reader, you really start caring about what happens. Also, as it is a rather shaky relationship at the start, with lots of misunderstandings, you also feel at times frustrated. It often seems like 'two steps forward and one step back! There are also various other characters, particularly the Amish ones, who are very interesting. One character, who has to go through a lot of soul searching is Samuel, Katie's boyfriends. You are not supposed to have too much pride if you are Amish, but sometimes it's hard to follow what is right! I also love the character of Coop, who is Ellie's love interest. He is another character who is totally baffled by a woman, but I guess there's nothing new there!

                        What I love most about this book though, is just that it is such a good story. Essentially it is a tragedy, and it is not easy to read about the death of a newborn, whatever the circumstances. It is also a love story as well though, with both physical and spiritual love coming through very strong! THere are different love stories within it to, both of lovers and of family. It is also a murder mystery followed by a tense courtroom drama, so this book basically has something of everything, and it is all done so well, because, in my view, Jodi Picoult is an exceptionally good writer.

                        The title 'Plain Truth' is also very clever. It can be taken as face value just as in telling the plain truth. Also though, as the Amish people are also called 'Plain' it really means that this is about what these people see as the truth!

                        So, do I recommend this book? Of course I do - it's a totally brilliant read, and a book I just didn't want to end I was so engrossed in it. There are also some books which at times are hard to pick up, but with 'Plain Truth', it was the reverse - I just didn't want to put it down! It's the sort of book which you wonder what you can follow it with that won't be a disappointment!

                        So having praised it to the hilt, I'm sure that you'll want to know that 'Plain Truth' is published by Hodder, and with just over 450 pages the paperback version sells at £6.99 - worth every penny!

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                      • Product Details

                        The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn's mother, took the child's life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide - and, for the first time in her high profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep into the world of those who live 'plain', Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. As she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within - to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past comes back into her life.