Jodi Picoult is back on form once again with this latest offering, in which she works with Jennifer Finney Boylan to create a compelling and beautifully written story which peels back the layers on themes of identity, wrapping it up neatly into an emotive murder mystery.
Olivia is a beekeeper and single mother to her teenage son, Asher. She’s escaped an abusive relationship with her ex-husband to build a life for herself and Asher back in her hometown. And it’s going well – Asher is a popular teen, playing hockey on the high school team, and he’s just got himself a new girlfriend, Lilly – who has recently arrived in town.
Lilly and her mother have travelled across the country running from their own secrets and past. She’s here for a fresh start, and she counts herself incredibly lucky to have found a boy like Asher who seems to genuinely care about her. She’s ready to start her future.
But, tragically, it’s not to be, and – early on in this story – Lilly is found dead in her home. And her new boyfriend is the prime suspect.
This book feels like a return to Jodi Picoult’s best, with all the staples of her novels – an emotionally charged story, a high-profile court case, even the return of a previous character in attorney Jordan McAfee. And, of course, her incredibly ability to research and explore different topics – from beekeeping to gender identity. Except this time she has help.
The story is written from two points of view – Olivia and Lilly. And, this time, they’re written by two different authors – but they’ve worked so closely together that it feels seamless and works perfectly. Picoult doesn’t often work with other authors but, as the true subject matter of the book became clear, I can completely see why Jennifer Finney Boylan’s experience and perspective were so important for this story – after all, it turns out that the whole book was Boylan’s idea. Every chapter is beautifully written.
It is best to go into this book knowing very little about it – but safe to say in classic Picoult style, there is a Big Twist. It occurs around halfway through the story – in a similar style to her last novel Wish You Were Here – and it takes the story in a completely different direction. I have to admit, at times it did feel a little like information overload, and like perhaps the authors tried to throw too many complex issues into the one story. But, this book has a big heart and an important message, it’s an inspirational, eye-opening story which I definitely learned something from.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 4.5/5.