Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
If I had chosen Perfect Match as the first Jodi Picoult book to read from my friend's loans, I wouldn't have read any of the others.
Nina is an attorney who prosecutes, among other serious criminals, child molesters. Of course, Nina's own son, Nathaniel, is molested at the age of five. Not surprising with the trauma, Nathaniel isn't able to speak for a time, and the wrong people, first, briefly, Nathaniel's father/Nina's husband Caleb and then their parish priest, are, in turn, accused of the crime. The book actually begins with Nina killing the priest in the courtroom. As the book proceeds, there's an interesting twist about who the actual molester is, and then there's another interesting twist at the end about what happens to him.
I guess my biggest problem with the book is all about me--I absolutely couldn't identify with Nina. Nathaniel is molested, and all Nina seems to think about is herself--her guilt, her need for answers about who did this to *her* child, her need to see the criminal punished. Nothing seems to be about Nathaniel for her. Ugh. At a certain point in the book, Nina does seem to come to the realization on her own that she wasn't acting in Nathaniel's best interest, but I guess that came too late to change my view of her, and, consequently, the book.
On the other hand, I really do like Caleb's character. He obviously has a very strong bond with his son, and he does put Nathaniel first. When he takes a major step at the end of the book, which we learn about after the fact, I think Caleb honestly does what he does to keep Nathaniel's mother in place with them--for Nathaniel. Not for himself, not for Nina. I wish the book had been more about Caleb. He's more the parent I aspire to be, though I do think Nina will be a more present parent in the future than she was prior to Nathaniel's molestation. Silver lining?
I also appreciated the brief sections from Nathaniel's point of view. They read as written in a realistic way from the perspective of a young child. Again, I might have liked the book better with more of those entries, though I think too many would have been overwhelming.
As an aside, I think Picoult has an interesting trend of including really nice, decent men in pivotal, supporting roles in her novels who love the wrong women. Doesn't that role usually fall to women in real life? This time around, the man in question is Patrick, Nina's childhood friend who is, of course, in love with her. What a waste. Again, I leave the book wishing I could follow Patrick and his story as he plans to move away. Yeah!
My overall rating of Perfect Match is a C+.