"You couldn't have strength without weakness, you couldn't have light without dark, you couldn't have love without loss."
I've read also a dozen of Jodi Picoult's novels over the years, and this one was rather different than her usual books. I generally enjoyed it, but I guess I was expecting a bit more. - especially from the ending.
The book centers around Trixie Stone - a fourteen-year-old teenager - and her parents, Daniel and Laura. Trixie is a typical teenager who has just been dumped by Jason, the "love of her life" and also the most popular boy in her school. Trixie is heartbroken and at a loss what to do with herself after losing Jason and she is determined to win him back. Her and her best friend devise a plan at a high school party when her friend's mom is out of town, but the party gets out of control and Trixie reveals to her dad the next morning that Jason raped her.
Throughout the remainder of the book, readers are left to struggle with the question as to if Trixie was raped and if and what she is telling the truth about. As details are revealed we go back and forth and things begin to get a lot more complicated. Jason is charged with rape and the whole town becomes involved. Daniel and Laura are also having problems on their own and the family struggles to deal with the incident and aftermath.
I liked a lot of things about this book. Daniel is a primarily as stay-at-home dad and I really enjoyed seeing his relationship with Trixie since my husband stays at home with our daughter. The novel brought up a lot of questions on what a father (or parent) would do to protect their children. The father-daughter relationship was particularly unique. I also connected with Trixie as a young teenager and the emotions that she was going through during and after her breakup with Jason. I had my first "real" boyfriend at around the same age and it really brought up a lot of emotions. Trixie was (in perspective) so young, but that made her feelings all the more real. There was also a strong presence of "the tenth circle" (aka the circle of hell) throughout the novel. Laura is a professor at a local college and her main course is teaching Dante's Inferno. Daniel has a connection to this concept as well and is a comic book artist whose new story features a father journeying through the circles of hell to rescue his daughter. At the end of each chapter there is another story told through comics and this is bits and pieces for Daniel's new book. I really liked this incorporate and thought that it brought a really unique aspect to the novel. It reminded me of when Picoult used original music in the audio book edition of her book "Sing You Home." I listened to the audio of "The Tenth Circle" as well, but checked out the print book so that I could read the comic book parts.
I enjoyed a lot of aspect of this story, but I kept expecting something else to happen and the ending didn't add up as much as it usually does for me when I read a Jodi Picoult. Plus the supernatural aspects did not work for me at all. I've seen it done well - even from Picoult - but this felt awkward and disjointed. Even so, this was a relatively good book that brought out a lot of emotions on a touch subject.