A co-worker/friend loaned me several different books by Jodi Picoult, and I've been very lax about getting the books read and returned to her. Finally, though, between the pressure of not wanting to fall into the "never a borrower nor a lender be" maxim and learning that Picoult is a big fan of Alice Hoffman's book, I found the motivation to get going on her books. While I don't like everything Hoffman has ever written, what I do like from her, I love.
So, I jumped into Picture Perfect last night when my daughter fell asleep early due to being sick. And I kept reading until I finished the entire book, a luxury I don't usually allow myself these days. Who needs sleep, right?
Picture Perfect drew me in right from the beginning. The story revolves around Cassie Barrett, who has amnesia at the beginning of the book, and her relationships with her husband, Alex Rivers, a famous movie star (think Brad Pitt's level of fame); Will Flying Horse, a Lakota police officer from Pine Ridge who seems to have been drawn to Los Angeles by fate just to meet Cassie; and, secondarily, two boys named Connor--one Cassie's childhood friend, the other Cassie's baby. The story is set in Los Angeles, Pine Ridge, and, through an exploration of Cassie's early relationship with Alex, Tanzania, though the book is much more character-driven than setting-driven.
This is a book about obsession, co-dependency, and spousal abuse. I like the way that, instead of portraying Alex as some sort of monster, Picoult provides insights into why Cassie would be drawn to a man like him. While the focus is definitely on Cassie, Alex isn't, in other words, a one-dimensional character, or even a wholly unsympathetic one.
The questions become not why Cassie's with an abusive man, but whether she'll leave the marriage, what would motivate her to leave the relationship, and why Cassie and Alex were drawn together in the first place. Cassie's past, Alex's charm, Cassie's need to be with someone as "broken" as she perceives herself to be, and Alex's interest in Cassie as someone who treats him as a person rather than a star all work together to provide a very believable basis for their marriage.
At the same time that I appreciate learning more about Cassie and Alex and their relationship, Will really captures my attention. He's the one I really worry about finding his own way in the world--or the two worlds of white (his mother's people) and Native American (his father's people), being both and yet not truly either, all at once. I left the book hoping Will isn't with Cassie because, as much as I liked her, he deserves to be with a woman who can love and appreciate him in a way I doubt she'll ever be able to. He needs to be someone's first and only choice, and Alex will always be Cassie's first choice, whether she's with him or not, just as Alex would note.
I'm anxious to read my other borrowed Picoult books now!
My overall rating of Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult is a B+.