Plain Truth

Jodi Picoult, Author
Jodi Picoult, Author Atria Books $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-671-77612-1
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 482 pages - 978-1-4165-4918-5
Hardcover - 405 pages - 978-0-7432-7501-9
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-671-77613-8
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-957-05-2537-3
Hardcover - 699 pages - 978-1-4104-3761-7
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-7434-2281-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-6894-9
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-36862-9
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-340-83656-9
Paperback - 451 pages - 978-0-340-96049-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4193-8942-9
Paperback - 978-1-4165-3649-9
Paperback - 405 pages - 978-1-4165-4781-5
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-21796-5
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-0-340-83547-0
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-0-340-97685-2
Hardcover - 576 pages - 978-0-7531-7595-8
Hardcover - 576 pages - 978-0-7531-7594-1
Hardcover - 14 pages - 978-1-84632-677-6
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Though it begins as the quietly electrifying story of an unmarried Amish teenager who gives birth to a baby she is accused of then smothering, Picoult's latest (after Keeping Faith) settles into an ordinary trial epic, albeit one centered intriguingly on an Amish dairy farm near Lancaster, Pa. Katie Fisher, 18, denies not only having committed the murder but even having borne the baby, whose body is found in the Fishers' calving pen, and she sticks to her story, even when she is quizzed by Ellie Hathaway, the high-powered Philadelphia attorney who undertakes Katie's defense as a favor to Leda, an aunt she and the young woman share. Ellie, who has retreated to Leda's farm in Paradise to reconsider her life--she successfully defends guilty clients--embarks on the case reluctantly: at 39, she wants nothing more than to have a child. However, to meet bail stipulations, she volunteers as Katie's guardian (since Kate's strict parents reject her) and moves in with the Fishers. Living with the Amish necessitates some adjustments for both parties, but Katie and Ellie become fast friends in spite of their differences. Very little action occurs beyond the initial setup, though the questions remain: Who was the father of Katie's child? And did she smother the newborn? Told from both third-person omniscient and first-person (Ellie's) vantages, the story rolls leisurely through the trial preparations, the results of which are repeated, tediously, in the courtroom. Perhaps the story's quietude is appropriate, given its magnificently painted backdrop and distinctive characters, but one can't help wishing that the spark igniting the book's opening pages had built into a full-fledged blaze. (May)
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