PLAIN TRUTH by Jodi Picoult

PLAIN TRUTH

KIRKUS REVIEW

An uneven reworking of tabloid headlines: a young woman is charged with infanticide, and a hard-boiled attorney agrees to defend her. With one crucial distinction: the defendant is Amish.

In the Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania, 18-year-old Katie Fisher, unwed, is the chief suspect in the death by asphyxiation of a newborn found in the Fisher family’s barn. A medical exam reveals that Katie has just given birth, but she insists she has never been pregnant. Enter Ellie Hathaway, a 39-year-old (and single) Philadelphia defense attorney visiting her aunt Leda. Leda, also Amish, prevails upon an initially reluctant Ellie to defend Katie. Ellie moves in with the Fishers to prepare Katie’s defense, a device that allows Picoult (Keeping Faith, 1999, etc.) to juxtapose the devout Amish (or Plain Folk) and their spartan way of life with city-slicker Ellie. But as Ellie befriends Katie, unsettling inconsistencies in the latter’s story emerge. As in Rashomon, the truth proves elusive, shifting, and often unwelcome. Is Katie suffering from a genuine psychosis, repressing events too traumatic to remember? Or was she simply trying to conceal an affair and pregnancy she knew would have led to her being shunned by her own people? The drama echoes with conflicts in Ellie’s own life: her loudly ticking biological clock, the end of a tepid relationship with another attorney, and the resumption of a love affair with Coop, her college sweetheart-turned-psychologist (and eventual expert witness on Katie’s behalf). All, of course, will be tidily resolved by trial’s end.

Despite a provocative and topical premise, and a strong opening, Picoult fails this time, her seventh, to rise above paint-by-numbers formula. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 9th, 2000
ISBN: 0-671-77612-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000




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Upcoming Kirkus Interview

May 19, 2015
Jodi Picoult
author of OFF THE PAGE

Meet Oliver, a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale and transported into the real world. Meet Delilah, the girl who wished Oliver into being. In bestseller Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha van Leer’s new young adult novel, Off the page, it’s a miracle that seems perfect at first—but there are complications. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to play Oliver’s role in the pages of Delilah’s favorite book. But just when it seems that the plan will work, everything gets turned upside down. We talk to the mother-daughter team on Kirkus TV.

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