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The Tenth Circle: A Novel Paperback – October 24, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle is a metaphorical journey through Dante's Inferno, told through the eyes of a small Maine family whose hidden demons haunt every aspect of their seemingly peaceful existence. Woven throughout the novel are a series of dramatic illustrations that pay homage to the family's patriarch (comic book artist Daniel Stone), and add a unique twist to this gripping, yet somewhat rhetorical tale.

Trixie Stone is an imaginative, perceptive 14 year old whose life begins to unravel when Jason Underhill, Bethel High's star hockey player, breaks up with her, leaving a void that can only be filled by the blood spilled during shameful self-mutilations in the girls' bathroom. While Trixie's dad Daniel notices his daughter's recent change in demeanor, he turns a blind eye, just as he does to the obvious affair his wife Laura, a college professor, is barely trying to conceal. When Trixie gets raped at a friend's party, Daniel and Laura are forced to deal not only with the consequences of their daughter's physical and emotional trauma, but with their own transgressions as well. For Daniel, that means reflecting on a childhood spent as the only white kid in a native Alaskan village, where isolation and loneliness turned him into a recluse, only to be born again after falling in love with his wife. Laura, who blames her family's unraveling on her selfish affair, must decide how to reconcile her personal desires with her loved ones' needs.

The Tenth Circle is chock full of symbolism and allegory that at times can seem oppresive. Still, Picoult's fans will welcome this skillfully told story of betrayal and its many negative, and positive consequences. --Gisele Toueg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Some of Picoult's best storytelling distinguishes her twisting, metaphor-rich 13th novel (after Vanishing Acts) about parental vigilance gone haywire, inner demons and the emotional risks of relationships. Comic book artist Daniel Stone is like the character in his graphic novel with the same title as this book—once a violent youth and the only white boy in an Alaskan Inuit village, now a loving, stay-at-home dad in Bethel, Maine—traveling figuratively through Dante's circles of hell to save his 14-year-old teenage daughter, Trixie. After she accuses her ex-boyfriend of rape, Trixie—and Daniel, whose fierce father-love morphs to murderous rage toward her assailant—unravel in the aftermath of the allegation. At the same time, wife and mother Laura, a Dante scholar, tries to mend her and Daniel's marriage after ending her affair with one of her students. Picoult has collaborated with graphic artist Dustin Weaver to illustrate her deft, complex exploration of Daniel and his beast within, but the drawings, though well-done, distract from the powerful picture she has drawn with words. Laura and Daniel follow their runaway daughter to Alaska, at which point Picoult drives the story with the heavy-handed Dante metaphor—not the characters. Still, this story of a flawed family on the brink of destruction grips from start to finish.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074349671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743496711
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (387 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,468 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

I ended up finishing the book just to finish it.
Brian J. Oneill
At times it just felt like there was too much going on, which, like the graphic novel, proved to be distracting from the main story at hand.
S. Rogers
Unfortunately, The Tenth Circle was the first Jodi Picoult book I read.
Six Horse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is so much I love about Jodi Picoult's writing and I always look forward to each new book of hers. I was intrigued that this one combined traditional writing with parts that were portrayed in comic book form (she got an actual professional comic book artist to do the drawings and they are nicely done.

However, I found the story to be very convuluted and the premise (was a young girl raped? Or not?) to be unbelievable in the way it played out, taking the whole thing to court. The case was far from clear cut and there were all sorts of potentially incriminating circumstances (at least, from a jury's point of view).

Picoult's greatest strength is her ability to glean insights about human behavior and the darkest, most hidden parts of people...and then bring them to light. In that regard, she doesn't disappoint this time around. I was intrigued by each character, from Daniel, a man who spent a great deal of his life in Alaska and had a dark, troubled his wife, Laura, a woman who'd been drawn to the rebel spirit in Daniel and then grew disappointed when he became more conventional.

At the heart of the book is Trixie Stone, the 14 year old daughter of Daniel and Laura, a teen who may or may not have been raped by her ex-boyfriend. I believe Picoult skillfully portrayed all the emotional highs and lows of today's 14 year old girls, half women, half girls...and growing up far too fast. I felt for Trixie and parts of the book were almost too painful to read as her heartbreak and pain shone through so clearly.

Where the book failed me was in the plot which veered and teetered close to soap opera material. There were just too many "over the top" moments and that's when I started to lose interest. I found myself saying, "Oh, come on!
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The plot of this page-turner is worthy of 5 stars.

Summary, no spoilers: Trixie, 14 years old, is despondent because her boyfriend Jason broke up with her. Thinking she can win him back, Trixie lies to her parents and goes to a party with her best friend, hoping she will see him there.

Picoult does a wonderful job of explaining the party life for teenagers today, and it is upsetting. We learn the concepts of "hooking up" and "friends with benefits." Woman's lib has taken a big step backwards.

Trixie drinks at the party, is involved in a game of strip poker, and engages in some sexual activity with one guy. Then she sees Jason.

The next thing we know is Trixie is accusing Jason of rape.

The conversations between the DA and the detective are terrific, as the DA explains the problems with even attempting to file rape charges under these circumstances.

The problem, and I cannot say more than this without giving way a spoiler, is that Picoult later has the authorities behave illogically, in order to proceed with the story.

The chapters involving Trixie were provocative and interesting. Picoult does an excellent job of making us feel empathy and sympathy for both Trixie and Jason. I was much less interested in reading about her parents, and found some of their story and actions less believable and reading more like filler.

Still, recommended, especially for book clubs. Boy is there a lot to talk about.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By lawliss on May 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. This novel is supposed to be a metaphorical journey through Dante's inferno and which culminates in a battle in the ice depths of "hell," which, interestingly enough, is Alaska in this novel.

Trixie is the main character - she is a 14 year old junior high school student whose heart has just recently been broken when her older boyfriend, Jason, decides to break up with her. At home, her father Daniel turns a blind eye to the pain that Trixie is in, even though she has begun self-mutilating herself in the girls' room, as well as the affair that his wife is having with a younger man that is also her T.A. in the classes that she teaches at the local college. However, at a friend's party, Trixie allegedly gets raped and this forces the family to confront not only Trixie's emotional and physical fallout from the rape but also their own issues and the fallout from those issues.

There were some weaknesses in this novel - the story was really twisted and confusing in parts. It was hard to follow. Did a rape happen or not? Maybe that was part of Picoult's plan - to keep us guessing. The way that it played out was more unbelievable than anything - in the real world, a case like this may have been withdrawn completely or changed to something other than a rape case.

I loved seeing how the characters morphed and developed over the span of 400 pages. I also loved the comic inserts. I felt that they really helped me understand Daniel Stone and how he viewed himself and his role as Trixie's father.

By the time that the stroy line got to Alaska, I wsa hoping that the novel would end quite frankly. I felt like it was an over the top tale in parts and I was happy when it ended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. R. Eads on November 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I haven't read a Picoult book in a while because her formula was bothering me but I saw this in the airport and decided it would be a easy yet entertaining read for the tedious 3 hour journey.

It was entertaining to the extent that I finished it. Unfortunately - it was still formulaic and completely predictable.

Elements that I liked:

- Rape is very rarely easy to sort out and date rape cases involving drugs, ex-boyfriends and alcohol are especially difficult. The confusion and obfuscation that Picoult writes (whether that was her intention or just poor writing) surrounding the issue can be representative of an actual rape.

- Teenagers are notoriously melodramatic and self pitying and Trixie, though a little over the top, seemed like a typical teenager... the reaction of other students at her school to the rape and Trixie also seem plausible.

- I liked the graphic novel. The melodramatic aspects are typical of the genre and it was a great way to try and illustrate Daniel. The hidden word bit - hokey.

- I liked learning about the native cultures in Alaska. I would like to read a whole book that takes place there and explores the themes though maybe not by Picoult.

- I liked the idiot's guide to Dante that was incorporated into the book.

Things I didn't like:

- Picoult tries to incorporate too much into this book and thus wasn't able to fully develop it all. Though I liked the native Alaskan bit, it was too jumbled and it didn't really add to the plot. Like another reviewer I wasn't left with the impression that Daniel's haunted past resurfaced. I was expecting a lot more. Murder? That's too much to add to this already overburdened plot.
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