The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Last Line First

        Jodi Picoult spoke at a local library last night. (Shay, eat your heart out although granted, Picoult is not Emmylou...That I would not dare try to rub in your face ;)

        Because Picoult is one of my favorite authors, I was looking forward to it. Because she was touring with her daughter (they have co-authored a young adult novel, Between the Lines), I imagined there would be moments that would not especially enjoyable. I wanted it all Jodi for the brief time she would be there...I wanted to hear about SingYouHomeandHandleWithCareandTheNinthCircle, not this new book.

      I was pleasantly surprised.

photo by ALA--the American Library Association
Jodi Picoult (on the left) and her daughter, Sammy

      Picoult's daughter, Samantha Van Leer, is an incredible reader; her voice colored her words perfectly as she read an excerpt from the book. It was also fascinating hearing how they worked together for the past three summers on this book.

       Several interesting tidbits were launched our way during the book talk:
  • Someone noted that many of Picoult's novels include a legal battle; they were curious why that was the case. The author explained that when she discovers a legal loophole, she is determined to include it in a book to "educate" the public. For example, she explained that she could not be forced to testify against her husband, but she could testify against her son or daughter. She jokingly admitted she would be much more likely to want to put away her husband than her kid.

  • Her novel Sing You Home has a main character who is a music therapist. This character also happens to be a lesbian. Picoult shared that while she was writing the book, her son came out. Interestingly, that book has brought more hate mail than all her other books combined--and there have been some awful things happening in her other novels. 

  • Someone in the audience complained how horrible the ending was in the movie version of Her Sister's Keeper. Picoult compared selling a book's movie rights to putting your child up for adoption. You hope they end up with loving parents, you hope they go to college and get married and have a family...but sometimes they grow up and become a hooker.

  • Before they even began writing the story, Samantha told her mother, "I know what the last line in the book should be." Apparently Picoult agreed, because they typed that line first, and as they started composing the story, they just kept typing above that first (last) line.

         I was determined to not buy a book, because Barnes and Noble (the sponsoring book seller) required audience members to buy a copy of the new book if they wanted to get only one additional book signed. However, after hearing the two authors speak, I am considering buying Between the Lines. It is written from several perspectives--as many (all?) of Picoult's novesl are--and centers around Delilah--a reader who is smitten with the hot prince in a fairy tale book and Oliver--the prince who is desperate to escape the tired story he is trapped in. What happens in a story when the book is closed? Do the characters remain frozen, waiting for the book to be cracked open once again? Or, do the characters in a book have a life all their own that they live whenever the book is put aside?

       If you're not familiar with Picoult's novels, check one out. Handle With Care  is one of my favorites. I also love Sing You Home. (My son is a music therapist, so this was the reason why I was initially drawn to the book.) Last night, Jodi spoke about how she is always conscientious about putting in all sides of an issue--even if that means she has to create a character whose views are repugnant to her--because she said, "It's not fair for me to preach to you and expect you to listen to me if I'm not listening to the viewpoint of others." (The narrow-minded minister in Sing You Home was disgusting to Picoult, but a necessary character.) 

       And thanks, Lynn, for coming last night. I love to watch sad movies by myself but other than that, things are better when you do them with a friend...