VANISHING ACTS by Jodi Picoult

VANISHING ACTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Well-oiled Picoult sets her latest expertly devised search-and-rescue tale in rural New Hampshire, where a kidnapping case is uncovered 28 years too late.

As usual, Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper, 2004, etc.) spins a terrifically suspenseful tale by developing just the right human-interest elements to make a workable story. Single mom Delia Hopkins works with the local Wexton police and a bloodhound named Greta to find lost children. Delia’s close relationship with her divorced, 60-ish father, Andrew, who runs a senior-citizens’ home, grows strained when he’s suddenly arrested on kidnapping charges. The victim is Delia herself, named Bethany Matthews before her father fled with her from a drunken Mexican mother in Arizona. For 28 of her 32 years, Delia has believed her mother was dead. With Andrew extradited to Phoenix, the strange history of the case unravels, complicated by the choice of Delia’s fiancé, Eric (father of daughter Sophie), as Andrew’s lawyer and the assignment of her childhood buddy Fitz to cover the case for his newspaper. Picoult is a thorough, perceptive writer who deliberately presents alternating viewpoints, so that the truth seems constantly to be shifting. When Delia finally meets the attractive, remarried Elise Vasquez, she can’t quite vilify a woman who has been sober for many years and works as a curandera (healer). Her father’s story is both suspect and understandable, especially in light of his horrific treatment in prison, caught up in the violence of rival gangs. The magnetic Eric is a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon when stressed, while dependable, silent lover Fitz waits in the wings for his chance. Meanwhile, Delia and Sophie make a fascinating digression into the mythical world of the local Hopi tribe. At times, Picoult goes over the top, allowing Sophie to get lost so that Greta can find her and, at the eleventh hour, inserting into the trial the possibility of Delia’s sexual abuse .

An experienced novelist takes her sweet time to rich rewards: overall, an affecting saga, nicely handled.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7434-5454-5
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2005




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Kirkus Interview
Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
authors of OFF THE PAGE
May 19, 2015

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. View video >

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