Jodi Picoult’s first novel — Songs of a Humpback Whale — was published in 1992, after she graduated from Princeton University with a degree in creative writing in 1987. She has been steadily releasing new fiction ever since, taking on more controversial and current events topics with each new release. Her newest novel, A Spark of Light, takes on the hot button issues of gun control and women’s reproductive rights. In total, Picoult has authored 25 novels so far that have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries, as well as five Wonder Woman comic book issues for DC Comics, short stories, and a Broadway musical. Five of her novels have even been made into movies.
I have read about half of her novels so far and am always eager to see what she will come out with next. Currently, I’m reading her newest, A Spark of Light, which drew me in from the very first scene.
The majority of Picoult’s books deal with heavy topics, like school shootings, racism, suicide, and the Holocaust. The characters in her stories are never strictly black or white, but are filled with gray areas and ambiguities that make you question what you thought you believed in as well. She also never comes down one way or the other on issues, either, and leaves many endings open-ended, allowing the reader to decide for himself or herself what he or she wants to believe. Sometimes after reading one of her novels, one doesn’t know what to believe anymore, or what side of an issue one should be on. Novels that make me think are my favorite kinds of novels.
Picoult is also known for her dramatic courtroom scenes, where lawyers will believably attempt to argue for or against characters and issues, but who come with their own baggage as well. It is also guaranteed that there will be a twist right at the end of every novel that the reader will not see coming, no matter how closely they are following along. I always hate when I can figure out the ending before the author gives it to me, so I usually read the last few pages of the book once I get into it to see if I’m right. With Picoult, I am always confused by the last few pages and never see the twist coming even though I know it’s going to happen.
But one of the best things about Picoult’s books as that they are all — with the exception of her young adult duology she co-wrote with her daughter — standalones. Her books are perfect for when you need to take a break between series, or are waiting for the next installment to come out, or even if you’re just looking for quick reads. There are some recurring characters spread across some of her standalones, but you don’t have to have read any of her other novels that these characters are featured in. But be careful; most of the time the characters’ actions and what they’re not saying speak louder than what they are saying, so sometimes you have to do some reading between the lines.
Try these out:
Or any of her other novels! Then come find me and we’ll discuss at length.