For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other, sharing everything from Chinese food to chicken pox to carpool duty. Parents and children alike are best friends - so it's no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily's friendship blossoms into something more. They've been soul mates since they were born.
When the midnight calls come in from the hospital, no one is prepared for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head as part of an apparent suicide pact. The gun holds a single unspent bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself, but a local detective has doubts. And the Hartes and Golds, in a single terrifying moment, must face every parent's worst fear: do we ever really know our children at all?
Picoult does it again.
Similar to John Boyne, I just can't get enough of her books. She manages to address some extremely heavy and difficult topics in a way that is accessible, but does not take away from the severity of what is being discussed. From abortion to racism to suicide, Picoult gives taboo topics the spotlight that they need in a world that would rather keep them in the dark.
The Pact is an emotional, gripping and heart breaking story of two families that have to come to terms with what must be a parent's worst nightmare; the death of a child. And not only the death of the child, but their apparent suicide. I really though Picoult got us into the minds of the parents so well as they try to come to terms with this. One set of parents who's child is still alive and the other who's child is gone forever. One could say that the parents' who's child is no longer alive suffered the most, but we get some incredible insight into how the other parents also grieve the loss for a child who they considered to be their own as well as the uncertainty surrounding their son's life and future. The extreme emotions that the mothers feel versus the hidden build up of heartbreak that the fathers experience was so well depicted and it really made me feel for all 4 of them.
Not only is the writing excellent and Picoult manages to truly illustrate this world, but the characters themselves are great and this is another thing that proves how fantastic a writer Picoult is. Each character had their own story and part to play and I felt that we really got to know each of the parents and the children so well as we uncovered secrets, memories and more.
The main reason I didn't give this a full 10/10 is because it sometimes felt like a very long build up. Now that I have finished the book, I can appreciate that these build ups just added to the atmospheric quality of the story but as you're reading it, it did feel like some of the chapters and flashbacks went on a little long.
I also would have liked a few more chapters at the end focusing on Emma's parents to see their feelings about the verdict (no spoilers, don't worry!). To be honest, it would have been nice to see a a little further into the future for everyone after the case, even the lawyer. It just felt like it ended really quickly.
That saying, I did love the very the end with the note. You'll know what I mean when you read it but it was a really lovely nice nod to how things were with Emma and Chris before. I also thought the theme around 'truth' was so interesting and it really made you think about how good and bad the truth can be.
So yes, it's a fantastic book. I will nearly always recommend Picoult's book. I enjoyed some of her other books more but in the grand scheme of the literary world, this is definitely up there!
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'Then again, Oscar Wilde said that the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple. Truth, you see, is in the eye of the beholder.'
Gus, she just seemed like such an amazing mother who would go to the ends of the earth for her son. She also had so much personality and is a character I would love to meet in real life.