Thursday, April 5, 2012

Defending Jacob - William Landay (Audio)

Word on the street was that this novel was twisty and tense...a legal thriller-turned-emotional punch in the stomach.  It was compared to Presumed Innocent.  The film rights have been purchased by Warner Brothers.  There was no reason in this world for me not to read this.  I'm so glad I did.


Synopsis:  Andy Barber is a man who has two priorities in his life...his family (wife Laurie, son Jacob) and his job as Assistant District Attorney.  But when his 14 year-old son is accused of murdering a classmate, all that he holds dear is threatened.  


Andy is steadfast in the defense of his son's innocence.  Sure, Jacob is quiet and doesn't fit in with the popular crowd at school.  Maybe he is even bullied a little bit.  But he is a good kid, right?  Social media and interviews with Jacob's friends reveal a whole different side to Jacob though.  Then there is the issue of the disputed "murder gene".  Andy's father and grandfather were killers (a fact Andy wished could have remained hidden)...could Jacob have inherited this tendency for violence?   As Andy's marriage crumbles and he considers the possibility of Jacob's guilt, he wonders if his life will ever return to normal.  


My thoughts:  There are just some books that strike fear in the heart of a parent.  What if?  "We Need To Talk About Kevin" just devastated me, for example.  Being a card-carrying member of Over-thinkers Anonymous, I tend to turn my attention inward, asking myself if I am doing the best for my kids, whether I am missing vital clues to whether they are disturbed and about to go off the deep end.  This novel had a similar effect on me.  It didn't flatten me the way Kevin did, but it made me very uncomfortable.


And I think Landay knows this.  He knows exactly what he is doing.  The plot starts out predictably enough.  But it diverts into deeper waters early on, and he probes into the recesses of your heart with his questions and issues.  The online personalities of our children versus the ones we see in real life.  The consequences of bullying.  The self-doubt of parenting...did day care screw them up?  Was I too permissive?  The confrontation of a parent spending a lifetime in prison.  To what extent would I go to protect my child?  Would I break the law for them or die for them?


I had been warned there were drastic twists at the conclusion of the book.  I thought I had them figured out.  Like when I was reading Kevin, I knew it wasn't going to be good.  But I'm not sure I was prepared for either ending.  It was satisfying in the sickest possible way.  I anxiously await the transformation of this one to film.


A few words about the audio production:  Our narrator was Grover Gardener, who was a new voice for me.  It appears that he narrates primarily in the genres of classics and non-fiction, but he did a respectable job here.  I'd happily listen to him again.


4 out of 5 stars 




17 comments:

Beth F said...

I've got this on my list! I've listened to bits and pieces of the audio and I know I'm going to love this.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Oh wow...would rather not put myself through this but know I'm gonna have to...I've got the other book on my WishList as well. Wasn't it based on a true story?

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wasn't that ending a killer? (so to speak) The only thing I didn't like about this book was the whole thing about the genetics. I could have had that part omitted.

bermudaonion said...

A good friend of mine read this book and said it took her breath away. She keeps urging me to read it. I wish I could figure out how to go without sleep.

bookbabie.com said...

That's very cool, I've never seen it before:)

bookbabie.com said...

Oops, sorry, thought I was commenting on your WW post!

Jenny said...

Wow, your review makes me want to read this now!! I just posted on Anita's blog the other day that the one thing that terrifies me the most about the possibility of having kids is having teenagers in the future, LOL!! That's so true about the online personalities thing... I'm glad that wasn't around when I was a teen.

Belle Wong said...

I haven't been sure about reading this - its such a stomach-twisting topic! But it sounds like such a good read. Great review.

Jackie Bailey said...

The murder gene? Well that at least makes it a bit more comfortable to read whilst thinking about my own sons - they don't have that!

I also love these Kevin type stories so I'll keep an eye out for this one.

Julie P. said...

Yep! This one threw me for a loop!

Nise' said...

I have to read/listen to this one now after reading your review and all the comments!

caite said...

Ok, the big ending totally sold me. This sounds so familiar though, I have to be sure I don't already have a copy...lol

Anita said...

I have this on my shelf. I have to get to it.
I over think too and I hope I haven't screwed my kids up too much.
Good review Sandy! Thanks.

Kathleen said...

I have GOT TO read this!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I'm about 3/4 the way through the audio version of this one, and enjoying it. I've been thinking all along that there are going to be some unexpected twists here.

Glad you enjoyed the audio.

Zibilee said...

Oh, I also just finished this one, and was totally thrown by the ending. In a way, it was perfectly done, but in another way, well...just yikes! A very disturbing read, but very different than Kevin. I'd love to talk to you about this one sometime!

Jenners said...

I'm the exact same type of parent … always overthinking and convinced I am slowly messing up my child. I've been wavering about this one but I think I need to read it. Disturbing can be good at times.