Customer Review

78 of 91 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Recollections are in the eyes of the beholder.", March 29, 2005
This review is from: Vanishing Acts (Wsp Readers Club) (Hardcover)
Cordelia Hopkins makes a living finding lost people. She and her beautiful bloodhound, Greta, have a terrific track record for leading successful search-and-rescue missions. They're very good at what they do. As "Vanishing Acts" progresses, it becomes obvious that Delia has had an unusually intense interest in loss, of both people and memory, stemming from her third year of life.

Raised by her warm and loving father, Andrew, Delia had as happy a childhood as anyone could wish for. Her dad, a widower, was always right there for her. She could talk to him about anything...and she still can, she believes. Sometimes, she would think about what it would be like to have a mother and fantasize about meeting her in heaven. Her mom died in a car crash when she was a small child. On the other hand, it seems to Cordelia that she and her father have lived forever in the same cozy house in rural New Hampshire, just the two of them. He has run a local senior center there for as long as she can remember, and has always been active in community affairs. Although she has vague memories of a woman who smelled of vanilla and apples, Delia remembers almost nothing of her life prior to Wexton, NH.

Her two next door neighbors are her two best friends and have been for most of her thirty-two years. She grew up with both of them. Eric Talcott, her fiance, is the father of her pre-school daughter, Sophie. They are in the process of planning their wedding. Fitzwilliam MacMurray, (Fitz), formed the other part of their triumvirate from the time they were little kids. They were a "fungible" trio, as Fitz once put it. In high school, when Eric and Delia fell in love, the three-way friendship continued and still does, years later. Eric is now a lawyer, and Fitz a journalist.

As Sophie grows from a toddler to little girl, Delia begins to remember more about her own life at her daughter's age. Images, sounds, the feel of the sun on her head, bring back fragmented memories from another time - people, voices and a place she just cannot identify. Then one evening a policeman knocks on the door with a warrant for her father's arrest, and her life and world are turned upside down.

"Vanishing Act" is written in the first person by each of five main characters: Delia, Andrew, Eric, Fitz, and Elise. Each point of view provides part of the puzzle that is the history of the Hopkins' family. I am a big fan of the author's and have never disliked any of her novels. There are some books by Jodi Picoult which I love, and others I would prefer not to read twice. "Vanishing Acts" is in the latter category, and is probably the book I like least by Ms. Picoult. The narrative feels forced, even erratic at times, and disturbs the natural flow which usually marks the author's work. She has added unwarranted drama, which fits neither the storyline nor the characters. There are scenes from prison life that, although fascinating, are tremendously distracting and excessively violent - to no purpose. Certain characters, dialogue and scenarios are just out of place and make an otherwise believable plot incredible. Unnecessary touches, like change of font and the use of boldface type to distinguish between characters' stories and chapters, are also awkward. It is as if the author could not count on the strength of her plot and storytelling ability to sustain the novel, and needed to go for the artsy effect to provide a worthy result.

On the other hand, there are people who surface here, like the Native American woman, Ruthann, who is a jewel of a character - and a prime example of what Jodi Picoult fans look for when we purchase her novels without a second's thought. I am glad I read the book. I would have been sorry to miss it. However, read parts of it in a bookstore before you decide to make a purchase. Otherwise, wait for it to come out in paperback or go to the library.

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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 20, 2007 6:46:40 AM PDT
B. Bartlett says:
I had trouble with this book as well. I like Picoult's books but sometimes she doesn't have enough story so she runs up the word count, exploring minor characters and useless plot points.

Really a disappointing read.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2011 6:03:55 PM PDT
I totally agree with your review. For example, she goes on and on about Delia's father making crystal meth in jail...complete with detailed instructions on how to make it. Did we really need that?!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 3:56:21 AM PDT
Thanks so much for your comments. Best, Jana

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2012 1:34:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 14, 2012 1:36:18 PM PDT
LilliMo says:
Cindy Swanson's comment summed it up in about 30 words. I was just noticing the too many of the reviews do the same thing, by giving away the plot completely in the review. sigh. It's not a book club- it's a review!!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2012 12:14:27 PM PST
Ann Mcrae says:
first book I've read by this author - not impressed - too much about the jail and chrystal meth ?? Might read another in the future. Not tight now.
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