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The Pact: A Love Story Paperback – May 5, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 2,570 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Teenage suicide is the provocative topic that Picoult plumbs, with mixed results, in her fifth novel. Popular high-school swimming star Chris Harte and talented artist Em Gold bonded as infants; their parents have been next-door neighbors and best friends for 18 years. When they fall in love, everyone is ecstatic. Everyone, it turns out, except for Em, who finds that sex with Chris feels almost incestuous. Her emotional turmoil, compounded by pregnancy, which she keeps secret, leads to depression, despair and a desire for suicide, and she insists that Chris prove his love by pulling the trigger. The gun is fired in the first paragraph, and so the book opens with a jolt of adrenaline. But Picoult stumbles in delineating both sets of parents' responses to the tragedy. Unconvincing behavior and dialogue inappropriate to the situation (plus, most importantly, the fact that the parents fail to discuss crucial topics) never touch the essence of bereavement and thus destroy credibility. Picoult redeems herself in flashbacks that reveal the two marital relationships and the personalities of both couples; and she sensitively explores the question of how well parents can ever know their children. After Chris is accused of murder and jailed, the narrative acquires impressive authenticity and suspense, with even the minor characters evoked with Picoult's keen eye for telling detail. The courtroom scenes (reminiscent of Picoult's 1996 novel, Mercy), are taut and well paced. Readers may remain unconvinced, however, that an intelligent young man like Chris would not have sought some help rather than respond to his lover's desperate request. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections; foreign rights sold in Germany, France, Poland and Norway.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Picoult is a writer of high energy and conviction who has, in her fifth novel, brought to life a cast of subtly drawn characters caught up in a tragedy as timeless and resonant as those of the Greeks or Shakespeare. That is not to say that Picoult is anything but accessible; in fact, this psychologically shrewd tale is as suspenseful as any best-selling legal thriller. The Hartes and the Golds, professional folk living next door in an affluent New Hampshire town, are close friends, and their children, the Hartes' son, Chris, and Emily Gold, were born just weeks apart. Inseparable all through childhood, they slipped from the haven of intimate friendship into the tempestuous realm of love in high school, a transition their parents fully expected and welcomed. But Emily is secretly appalled by the incestuous nature of her relationship with Chris, and when she discovers that she is pregnant, she can imagine only one solution: suicide. Chris is with her when she dies and is consequently charged with her murder. As Picoult takes us through the nightmare that follows, examining each character's struggle with guilt and sorrow, she forges a finely honed, commanding, and cathartic drama. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688170528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688170523
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,570 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,015,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karen Bierman Hirsh VINE VOICE on January 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was unable to put this book down. What an amazing book. Jodi Picoult has perfectly described the feelings of love, loss, grief and devastation in The Pact. I think I must have begun weeping several times while reading this book (on the bus, in line at the drug store...).
Not only is the book gripping while you are reading it but it stays with you afterwards - I can't stop thinking about it.
The Pact is the story of two teenagers who grow up next door to one another from birth, their parents are the best of friends and have always expected that their children's friendship will blossom into love which it does.
The book jumps from both Chris and Emily's perspective as well as both sets of parents - it deals with a suicide pact gone wrong and the aftermath (as well as what has lead up to the central moment). If anyone has ever learned devastating news or lost a loved one then they know what it can do to a person as well as a family and I thought that The Pact was unbelievably realistic.
This was one of the most moving, touching and important books I have read - it certainly leaves you thinking about it and your own life as well as the lives of those around you.
Read this one but make sure to keep a box of tissues and a loved one near by (for a hug if you need one).
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Format: Paperback
I probably would not have read this book if I'd really known what it was about as we had recently lost a child to suicide. However, I am glad that I read it. It was enormously healing to read about other families facing the same sort of loss. The story was also well done. I could completely understand why the main characters acted as they did and also see how tragically unnecessary it was. Great book. Nicely written, believeable characters.
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Format: Paperback
The Pact is the first book of Jodi Picoult's that I have ever read, and based on what I've experienced with this, I know it won't be the last. The Pact is emotional, moving, shocking and surprising. The narrative is told in an interesting back-and-forth style, between Chris, who is accused of murdering his life long friend and love, and Emily, dead at seventeen and whose voice is a trace of past events. Moving between present day court proceedings and what actually happened the night a teenaged girl was shot, we delve into the childhoods of both characters and the family that surrounds them.
The Hartes and the Golds live next to each other, eat together, gather in each others homes and go on vacation together. Somewhere along the way, and much to the parents happiness, Chris and Emily end up dating each other. Soon after, as witnessed in Emily's thoughts and journals, it becomes apparent that she herself is not happy with this; that something in her life and heart is troubled beyond even Chris's presence. The mystery surrounding the night of her death continues for the whole length of the novel, and every turn is shrouded in secrets, lies, and ultimately, the truth.
I devoured this book in a few sittings. Picoult does a wonderful job in getting us to know the two families; both sets of parents are equally interesting and sympathetic, and the story would not have worked as well if they weren't. The reader never really knows what happened that fateful night between Emily and Chris until the very end, and it keeps you going to find out. This is a well-written, intriguing novel, and I can't wait to read more of her works.
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Format: Paperback
Assuming that this was another "chick novel", I would not have ordinarily picked this book to read. But since a friend had recommended it to me, I dived into it with low expectations. As I read, I became increasingly engrossed with the realistically-drawn characters and well-crafted plot. The novel is great for book discussion groups as it raises lots of questions: Can the legal system ever adjudicate the real truth, or is truth so relative that it can never be legally defined? Can one give onself over to another too completely? Is suicide ever a reasonable answer to life's challenges? This book is indeed a "chick novel" in the sense that it is primarily about interpersonal relationships. But it is more than just a light, entertaining read. Those who appreciated the movie "Ordinary People" will find in this novel a similarly sophisticated treatment of the despair that can attend adolescence and the impact it can have on families and communities.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Two families were the closest of friends. Their children, Christopher Harte and Emily Gold, both age 17, had grown up together and started dating each other at age 13. On one fateful night, that all changed when Emily is found dead from a gunshot wound and Chris claims it was a suicide pact. The prosecutor claims murder and now these two supposedly ideal families will be ripped apart as they grapple with what happened and why.

Jodi Picoult's powerful story will leave the reader reeling from the overwhelming emotions conveyed. Ms. Picoult demonstrates a solid grasp of her subject matter as her characters struggle with the notion of Emily's suicide versus Chris being her murderer. THE PACT: A LOVE STORY is thought provoking, albeit painful at times.

Jodi Picoult deftly interweaves the past and present in this poignant family drama. Suicide is an extremely sensitive subject and this topic may disturb some readers. Ms. Picoult handles the topic exceptionally well, however, remaining sensitive to all of the issues and parties involved in THE PACT: A LOVE STORY.

THE PACT: A LOVE STORY is not an easy read, but it is a book well worth reading more for the questions Ms. Picoult asks than for any real answers. As the story unfolds, readers will find themselves completely immersed into this deeply moving and heart wrenching tale. THE PACT: A LOVE STORY is a very realistic portrayal of the aftermath of a suicide, particularly one under such questionable circumstances, and as such will be both loved and hated at the same time. Kudos to Ms. Picoult for daring to venture into this territory and for being so compassionate in the process.

COURTESY OF CK2S KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
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