Jodi Picoult has the unique ability of selecting a perplexing dilemma surrounded by a controversial issue, then carefully crafting a fictional plot around that, then proceeding to explore the inner feelings and motivations of the multiple characters, and then in the end probing the recesses of the human condition in a way that has no equal. The book immerses the reader into the world of a good family trying their best to deal with a bad hand that they're dealt. And then when the book has captured your emotions, it breaks your heart. Oh, and did I say that I liked the book?
I could have done without the old flame romance and related sex that was included in the story. But I figure that's one of the items on the check list of things that need to be included in a book that is to be a best seller for the chick-lit crowd.
The author has inserted a little mystery into the story line to puzzle the reader. What's the service dog for? The question is asked numerous times in the story and is answered with hilarious one liners. For example; "I'm near sighted, so my dog reads the road signs for me." That question along with others get answered near the end of the book.
The narrative is told in the first person voice from multiple characters. This allows for an endless flow of quotable aphorisms as their inner thoughts are verbalized. Some examples follow:
--- Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.
--- I had the heart of the relationship, and no body to grow it in... It broke.
--- The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance.
--- I thought lightning wasn't supposed to strike in the same place twice....sure it does...but only if you're too dumb to not move.
--- If you focus on sandbagging the beachhead, you can ignore the tsunami that's approaching. Try it any other way and you'll go crazy.
--- You don't love someone because they're perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they're not perfect.
--- Do all the wonderful things happen when we are not aware of them?
--- Sometimes to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least.
--- (24,7)...once you sign on to be a mother, that's the only shift they offer.
--- ... my father would go to heaven, because if he went to hell he would put out all the fires.
--- Maybe if God gives you a handicap, he makes sure you've got a few extra doses of humor to take the edge off.
--- Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult ... is only a slow sewing shut