Jodi Picoult – “Salem Falls” (27/52 books challenge)

Salem Falls Okay, I have no idea why I chose this one. I guess cause the Polish title was “Witches form Salem Falls” and I wanted to read about witches.

                Either that or I just tossed a coin. I’m having a temporary amnesia .

                Anyway, it’s a story about one of the unluckiest SOBs on Earth. Jack teaches at a private school for girls. One of them falls in love with him and writes her fantasies in her journal. Her minister father finds it and accuses Jack of rape. He accepts a penalty of 8 months old, to avoid the process. He serves his sentence and when he leaves he just wants to start a new life. So, he gets to Salem Falls, starts working at a diner, falls in love with the owner’s daughter, and everything goes well. Until his past is made public and hate awakens in people. Then, to make matters worse, one of the town’s teenager – a practicing Wiccan – accuses him of rape. This time Jack is determined to prove his innocence, though there is a moment when there is nobody left who believes him, and though all the evidence show he’s guilty.

                Ok, so let’s begin. The weird unlikely coincidences annoyed me to no end. I mean, no guy is that unlucky. I liked all the other characters, except for him. He was just too good to be true. There was absolutely nothing he had ever done wrong and yet it was so easy to get him into prison. Not buying it. I mean, what’s up with the scene in the trees? Quite funny and mildly amusing, if you like this sort of thing – and I do – but come on, in a serious book of wrong accusation of rape and putting labels on people, it just seemed a little silly.

                The ending – unrealistic, at least in Jack’s case. Unsatisfying about every other character. The witches theme, as much as I enjoyed it, at times was truly eye-rolling. I mean, is this a drama or a horror, or a fantasy, or what? If that was just some teenage girls having fun by pretending to be witches, that’s fine. But to actually make some of the stuff happen “magically” felt – to me – like bullshit.

                Now to the things I liked. There were multiple characters, and multiple plots, and multiple points of view. I know some people hate it, but I actually liked it a lot. I also liked the flashback scenes, even though it interrupted the action, and I just wanted to know what’s going to happen next. But I appreciated those scenes, cause they shed some light on the characters and their motives/history.

                The book deals with an important theme of judging a person by their past and giving them labels. How people can destroy someone’s life by prejudice and stereotypes. It’s not an easy topic, for sure, and it should be done carefully. Here, I’m torn, because some moments I really enjoyed, and others made me eye-roll.

Overall, I am a little torn about this book, cause it was engaging and included a lot of interesting information (about Wicca) and some nice threads, but it also included a lot of silliness.

                But, at the end I managed to look past the “silliness” and just enjoyed reading.

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