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Salem Falls Paperback – August 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Picoult's new novel (following the acclaimed Plain Truth) is a story about rape and reputation, loosely based on The Crucible. Jack St. Bride comes to Salem Falls, N.H., after his release from prison. The former teacher and soccer coach wants to start a new life following a wrongful conviction for statutory rape. Unfortunately, Salem Falls turns out to be the wrong place to do it. He has no trouble landing a job at the local diner and winning the trust of the diner's eccentric owner, Addie, but the rest of the town is suspicious. Things get dangerous when manipulative 17-year-old Gillian Duncan, whose father owns half the town, gets interested in Jack and tries to seduce him with Wiccan love spells. Then Gillian is assaulted in the woods, and Jack is accused of the crime. As the courtroom battle unfolds, many secrets are revealed, and Picoult's characters are forced to confront the difference between who people are and who they say they are. The difference is considerable: despite the townspeople's aura of virtue, by the end of the book we're hard pressed to find any women who have never been raped or threatened, or any men who are really innocent of violence. While Picoult seems ambivalent about the power of Wiccan spells, she has no doubts about the power of sex and violence to change lives. Some of her characters, though, can be almost disturbingly forgiving. Genuinely suspenseful and at times remarkably original, this romance-mystery-morality play will gain Picoult new readers although her treatment of the aftermath of rape may also make her a few enemies. Agent, Laura Gross. 10-city author tour. (Apr. 10) Forecast: Picoult tastefully tackled touchy subject matter in Plain Truth, but she tips toward sensationalism here. That may gain her readers in the short run, but could undermine her reputation over time.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When Jack St. Bride arrives in the small town of Salem Falls, all he wants is to escape his past. He's spent the last eight months in jail, after being falsely accused of having an affair with an underage student at the school where he taught. In Salem Falls, he gets a job as a dishwasher at a local diner and tentatively begins a romance with the diner's owner, Addie, who is still mourning the death of her young daughter, born after Addie was raped in high school by three drunk boys. As she and Jack fall in love, they both see hope for the future. But their newfound love is threatened when the residents of Salem Falls learn of Jack's conviction and begin harassing him. When, predictably, a teenage girl accuses Jack of raping her, he finds himself back in jail, fighting a serious charge and the town's prejudice. Addie wrestles with her doubts and memories of her own rape, but she believes in Jack and goes on a quest of her own to find out the truth about Jack's initial conviction, even as the Salem Falls trial opens. Unfortunately, the novel spirals down into cliche, toward an all-too-predictable ending. There are some interesting elements here (such as Addie's inability to accept the death of her daughter), but the novel doesn't rise above its formulaic plot. Still, Picoult's previous novels, including Keeping Faith (1999) and The Pact (1998), have garnered a large audience, especially in book-discussion groups. Expect her latest to generate some demand, but buy cautiously. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743418719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743418713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (327 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers "The Storyteller," "Lone Wolf," "Between the Lines," "Sing You Home," "House Rules," "Handle with Care," "Change of Heart," "Nineteen Minutes," and "My Sister's Keeper." She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By rebelmomof2 VINE VOICE on May 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I must confess that when I ordered this book, I was anxious to read it and put Harry Potter Vol. #4 aside so I can read it. I love Jodie Picoult's writing, and was eagerly anticipating more of the same with this book. I found to my disappointment that it wasn't as riveting as The Pact or as enthralling as Keeping Faith. I am disappointed ~~ while the writing is always lyrical and riveting, the story holds no surprises for me.
Jack St. Bride is accused of raping a girl in Salem Falls ~~ and Jordan MacAffee is his attorney again. Addie, the woman who falls in love with Jack, also undergo a personal revelation as well in this multi-faceted novel. There is a group of teenage girls who practice Wicca ~~ which is interesting. And there's the showdown, which Picoult is known for ~~ but if you're looking for a great Picoult book, I highly recommend The Pact because the courtroom scene there is wonderful! It is suspenseful and breath-stopping. But in this book, it's lackluster and disappointing.
Please don't hesitate to read this book ~~ it is still a good read. It just isn't up to par to her other books ~~ and it could be the subject is familiar to me. What teenage girl doesn't fanastize about her favorite male teacher? And what woman doesn't shudder at the idea of being raped? Or being accused falsely of a crime one didn't commit? And reading about some of Jack's past helps give him a human face in the book ~~ it just didn't explore his personality like I hoped it would. It's almost as if Picoult is trying to write about rape, sex and its effect on women ~~ but something's missing there as it leaves me with more questions than revelations. This is a powerful subject but it misses the mark somewhere.
It is still a wonderful book ~~ just don't get your hopes up too much like I did. It just isn't my favorite Picoult book.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have read every one of Picoult's books and am sad to find that the quality has lessened with every book. In fact, I think "The Pact" was the last semi-plausible and well-written book that she wrote.
This newest book was so full of inconsistencies, errors in procedure (police and courtroom),and sloppiness. There were too many different issues covered and consequently none of them was done well. Picoult needs better editing and much better advice on the legal issues, and she needs to stop churning out books at such a furious pace and be more careful. Readers are not stupid--we know when something can or cannot happen. I, for one, do not like to have a writer make something up so as to manipulate the story. For example--the crime scene was not cordoned off until the next morning. As if that would ever happen, no matter how small the town. But it was written this way to facilitate the direction in which the author wanted the story to go. Shouldn't the action determine the story, not the other way around?
The characters in this book lacked any depth and were like cardboard cutouts. I did not care about one of them with the possible exception of Addie.
It seems as though Picoult is only concerned with the final product, not how the story is put together. I see a novel as a tightly woven tapestry, a blending of many elements into a wonderful entity. In this book, I see disarray and holes in the fabric of the story.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have to preface this by saying that I have read all of Jodi Picoult's books, and always wait anxiously for her next to arrive. She is an incredible writer, who always has compelling and interesting plots and characters, but Salem Falls was not up to her usual standards.
It starts with a bang -- a brilliant Ph.D who landed himself in prison with false charges of statatory rape gets out and settles in Salem Falls, a quaint, nothing ever happens, type of North East coast town. I was immediately drawn to his character as well as that of the woman who "takes him in," Addie. She is a woman tied to the past, and psychologically impacted by it -- afraid that those she loves will leave her, and unwilling to accept that those she has lost are truly gone. It takes her many years, for example, to accept that her daughter has passed away.
Aside from these two likeable characters and some less visible ones, the main characters are four teenagers. One of whom accuses Jack of rape, puts him on trial, and has the whole town defending her. And this is where the book lost its draw for me. The punch of a start fizzled out half way through as I began to piece together everything I knew would happen next, and it did. The ending might have been a surprise, had I not guessed it at the very beginning. And had I not been drawn to Jack, longing for him to earn the respect he deserves, I might have given up.
I suppose if I had never read Picoult, this one might have appealed to me. But my expectations were so high that this was a let down. All of her other books are incredible, this one, mediocre in my opinion. But I would still recommend it, just not before any of her other jewels.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on June 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
SALEM FALLS by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult does it again with SALEM FALLS, a story about a man who is falsely accused of rape. Jack St. Bride was a teacher and soccer coach at a small town high school, when he is accused of rape and is sentenced to 8 months in prison. When he is released, he finds his way to another small town, Salem Falls, to start a new life, hoping that anonymity will give him the peace he is looking for.
The wheels of fate start turning when he has to report in to the local police department and let them know he is a sex-offender. In this small town, gossip spreads fast, and soon the entire town learns who Jack really is. Only two people feel that he is innocent of the crime he was accused of back home: Addie Peabody, who owns the "Do-or-Diner" and her father, Roy Peabody. Both of them are dealing with losses that have greatly affected their current life, and in some way they can relate to Jack as he struggles to escape from his past.
At the heart of this story is the theme of "the witch hunt", as the towns people watch Jack closely with condemning eyes as they wait for him to make his first mistake. He is then accused of yet another rape, this time accused by the only daughter of the richest man in Salem Falls. Jodi Picoult keeps the reader guessing, as even the reader isn't sure whether Jack is guilty or not. As with KEEPING FAITH and THE PACT, this book ends in the courtroom, and it is anyone's guess what the final verdict will be.
This is yet another Jodi Picoult book that I enjoyed a lot. Although it took me a while to get into the story, as I had a hard time relating to the teens who practiced witchcraft, it all came together in the end. Highly recommended, I am giving this book five stars.
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