Chris and Emily have been joined at the hip since they were born. Their two families are next-door neighbors in a small New Hampshire community, and their mothers have been best friends since before the kids were born. When their friendship changes to romance as the two become teenagers, no one is surprised, and in fact the four parents are not-so-secretly pleased. When the couple are seniors in high school, Emily is killed in an apparent suicide pact, leaving the parents and the entire community stunned. When the DA latches onto Chris as a murder suspect, the book’s plot begins moving a breakneck speed, interspersing scenes of Chris, Em and their parents from the past with events in the present time, including Chris’s imprisonment and trial.
This book had me in tears for the first 100 pages. The parents’ raw emotions are exposed, and only a heartless reader would not be drawn into their pain. Picoult is an enthralling storyteller, not afraid to probe controversial subjects like teen suicide. In addition, she is able to capture the emotions of teenagers perfectly, even when the readers can see they’re acting completely thoughtlessly. Her strategy of jumping from the present to the past works to heighten tension, while slowly revealing the true facts of what happened that fateful night Emily was shot. I recommend this book highly. Although it’s not specifically written for young adults, they will be engrossed with the story. This would be an especially good choice for Picoult and Sarah Dessen fans, devotees of realistic teen fiction, and anyone wanting to get swept away by an engrossing story.