THE TENTH CIRCLE
While Picoult is well known for her heartfelt novels, her true gift lies in her ability to create books that are distinct from one another. Her latest is no exception. In it, she explores how one family's life is forever altered when the teenage daughter is date-raped.
Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is the light of her comic-book artist father Daniel's life. Daniel and his wife, Laura, a Dante professor at a nearby college, live a quiet life in a small Maine town. When Trixie is raped at a party by her ex-boyfriend, Jason, Daniel comes face to face with the anger he has repressed since his difficult boyhood in Alaska. The family becomes even more fractured when guilt-stricken Laura reveals that she's been having an affair and was with her lover the night of the rape. Together, the Stones attempt to heal their wounds.
Picoult's latest illustrates how easily a seemingly ordinary routine can spin out of control. Trixie's fateful decision to attend a party has drastic repercussions. Overnight, she's transformed from popular teen to school pariah, especially when her accusation of Jason threatens his chance at playing professional hockey.
The most profound aspect of the novel lies in the mystery behind Trixie's attack and Dave's past in Alaska. Picoult reveals their secrets through written narration and through Daniel's comic-book art (provided by graphic artist/collaborator Dustin Weaver). Fans and newcomers alike will not want to miss this first-rate read. (Mar., 400 pp., $26.00)