The Pact | Jodi Picoult

December 26, 2009

1998

On December 18th, Steven’s sister went into labor, so I grabbed two books and put them in my purse before we left the house.  He may have been under the impression that we’d be in and then out of the hospital in under two hours, but I knew better–and I was prepared.  The two books I took with me were The Pact by Jodi Picoult and The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond.  I had already started Richmond’s book, but something about The Pact drew me in while I was sitting in the waiting area of the maternity ward.

The Pact is about two families who are very close and the aftermath of the suicide pact that their children make.  A year ago, I started reading one of Picoult’s other books, My Sister’s Keeper, but couldn’t get through it because I failed to find interest.  However, The Pact captured me with very little effort.

Spoilers to follow.

One of the most frustrating parts of The Pact, but in a good way, was how Melanie Gold transformed after the death of her daughter.  It was fascinating to watch, but almost unbearable to just sit and not be able to scream at the poor woman.  I hope I am never in a position to fully understand what she went through, but I hope even more that I don’t fall apart in the manner she did.  Her daugher, Emily, grew up with and was very close friends with Chris Harte, the son of Melanie and Michael Gold’s friends, the Hartes.  They became so close that they eventually began dating, not to the surprise of any one of them.  However, something changes in Emily and she becomes suicidal, to which she only confides in Chris, and they form a suicide pact that ends with the death of Emily, but Chris still alive.  Because there is an investigation of it possibly being a homicide and Chris is the only suspect, Melanie gets it in her head that Chris killed her daughter.  Because of this, over the course of the investigation and trial, she pushes away the Golds, even though they were close enough to be family.

What is more frustrating, as the story continues, is that Melanie finds Emily’s diary, and in it she writes how she became pregnant, had never told Chris, and that she was sexually assaulted by a stranger when she was very young.  All of this leads to her eventual unhappiness with her life and her eventual turn to suicide, but Melanie is unwilling to accept it–and she burns the diary without showing anyone.  I am not a mother, so I cannot fully grasp the pain Melanie endured, and even the self-blame she endured because of being unaware of her daughter’s pain.

The unfolding drama that tears apart these families is very difficult to read, but very well-written.

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