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Breaking Faith
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Novels; Books-titles -- Perfect Match
Author: Reviewed by Ann Hood
Date: May 5, 2002
Start Page: T.06
Section: BOOK WORLD

[Jodi Picoult] has become a master -- almost a clairvoyant -- at targeting hot issues and writing highly readable page-turners about them. The very week that the news about the Catholic Church's history of priests sexually abusing children and teens broke, Perfect Match arrived on my doorstep. Here, as in her previous novels, Picoult presents us with ordinary characters who are thrust into morally ambiguous situations. In this case, Assistant District Attorney Nina Frost, whose job it is to send child molesters to prison, is suddenly confronted with the fact that her own beloved 5- year-old son, Nathaniel, has been sexually molested by a priest.

Sometimes this strength actually turns into a weakness. Her novels are so concept-driven that characters can suffer from underdevelopment. Take, for example, Nina's husband, Caleb, who "does stonework -- brick paths, fireplaces, granite steps, stone walls." Their relationship rarely seems three-dimensional. Rather, he seems to serve more as a foil for both Nina and Patrick, a policeman she has known since childhood whose love for her is unabashed. Caleb is stubborn, unsympathetic and rigid; Patrick is sweet, funny and endlessly understanding and adoring. However, in Picoult's view of the world, Nina would never leave Caleb for Patrick, although they seem so much more in love and better suited.

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