Published in 1995. 369 pages.
Why I read this book: Since reading My Sister's Keeper last year, I have become a big fan of Jodi Picoult. Of her fifteen novels to date, I've now read twelve. Last month my sister Elicia wanted to pick one of Picoult's novels for our book club for May, and she was kind enough to choose one that I hadn't read yet - so she picked Picture Perfect, even though it's not one of her favorites. Unfortunately, I discovered that it's not one of my favorites either. In fact, I might put it dead last in a ranked list of Picoult's work. That isn't to say that I hated it. In fact, if I didn't really love so many of Picoult's novels, I probably would have found this one to be just fine.
What was good about this book: Domestic violence is an important societal issue, and Picoult does a nice job of addressing tough, even controversial topics in the course of telling a good story. The three main characters - Cassie Barrett; her movie star husband, Alex Rivers; and the half-Sioux police officer, Will Flying Horse - are well-developed with detailed backgrounds that help us to understand them. I also liked the three Native American legends that introduced each of the main sections of the novel.
What wasn't so good about this book: The use of symbolism that I like so well in Picoult's work was not developed well enough in Picture Perfect to make a great impact on me; I think the potential was there - for example, her website says that "hands figure significantly and symbolicly" in the book - but it didn't quite do it for me. Another thing I usually like about Picoult's novels is that she tells the story from varying viewpoints. That was here to some extent but not used as effectively as it could have been; a few times, Cassie's story slips into second-person, which I found to be simply distracting. Finally, there was no major twist, like I've come to expect from Picoult, and, subsequently, I found the ending to be weak. (I guess a strong ending doesn't require a twist, but I just needed something more.)
Celebrating the author: Jodi Picoult's birthday is May 19, so I've "celebrated" her this month by reading Picture Perfect. To learn more about Picoult and her work, visit her website here.
P.S. If you've reviewed Picture Perfect, I would love to link to you. Please leave me a comment!