I really felt, though, that it was inconsistent of Sarah to have both killed the child and to have hidden the fact. First, the author builds the whole story around certain ideas about this Amish community.
I thought this book was pretty crummy even though it was a page-turner. However, I get the feeling the author doesn't really understand them, she just thought it'd be a cool setting. Now, I re-read books, so this isn't itself a killer, when I like the trip.
I mean, it really does seem that the only reason the ghost was added was so that the author could explain Katies attraction to Adam.
There is an Amish community close to where I live in western Pennsylvania. Over the years I have also developed a growing curiosity about the way this Amish community lives... Although a work of fiction, the author described spending time living with an Amish family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In the middle of the night, in an Amish barn, a young woman labored to give birth to her baby. And the two things she had been holding when she fell asleep- the scissors and the newborn-were gone." This early morning scene in the barn sets up this story.. The young Amish woman in the story, Katie Fisher, is 18 years old, unmarried and lives with her parents, Aaron and Sarah, on their dairy farm. Katie Fisher was charged with the murder of her son and visiting defense attorney Ellie Hathaway was hired to represent her in court. But it was the details about the Amish community to which she belonged that I found most interesting in this story. As young children, "the very first thing they learn is that there's always a higher authority to yield to-whether it's your parents, the greater good of the community or God." As Ellie was told by members of the community when trying to understand Katie Fisher's state of mind... It's so that the person can make amends and move on." Ellie also learned another important fact about Katie's community..."The English culture promotes individuality, while the Amish are deeply entrenched in community.
Then there's the over-Amishing of the Amish that might stick out more for me because I live a half hour drive from where this book is set.
I liked the concept of this book, but was disappointed in the execution of the story line as well as the writing. Later, the same character said that in her desire for a baby she "wore Stephen down" and they tried for 6 months, but she did not get pregnant because "the relationship was rotten." The story line of Ellie's "problem" with yearning for a child is choppy and confusing - it reads as if the story was going one way initially and then changed course but wasn't fully corrected. It seems like the author intended to do something else with this novel (a paranormal element), but then needed to wrap up and bailed on that story line. The sudden revelation that teenage Katie had been taking the train on weekends to visit her bother in college, every month for years, was jarring and simply not believable. The author writes on one page Ellie's brother had "no idea" of the relationship with Katie and was shocked at the suggestion - turn the chapter and suddenly he has a huge stack of letters that he never delivered. I think editing could have corrected the contradictory elements, worked in elements where lines were unraveling, and better developed the characters.
I loved Picoult's attention to detail throughout the story; she obviously did a great deal of research on the Amish way of life and really embraced the characters. Her research shined through the beautifully detailed descriptions of life on an Amish dairy farm and the unique personalities of characters like Aaron Fisher.
This book had five stars in my head until I read the ending, if that gives you any indication how much I hated the ending. I'm not sure I can stand one more two-dimensional character with a brash personality. The underlying themes of disassociation with painful subjects, how to be true to yourself and your beliefs when no one believes you, accepting responsiblity for both appearances and your actions, and ultimately how a lie is okay as long as it makes everything better for those around you (that might be snide, because I don't think that's what the author was trying to convey--did I mention I hated the ending?) will resonate with readers for a long time after the book is closed.
For sure a favorite of Picoult books for me!