Before I begin reviewing this seventh novel by Jodi Picoult, I would like to say how much I enjoyed the narration of this book. Christina Moore and Suzanne Toren were pitch perfect in conveying the way Americans normally speak in the present day (hard-boiled and harsh) with the way that the Amish speak (slow, sweet and German-accented.) In addition, Simon & Schuster Audio did a superlative job with the production and editing, so that it was easy to sit back and become totally absorbed in this very interesting tale.
First off, how I love Jodi Picoult’s punning titles! After the opaque and too-long title of her first novel (SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK WHALE) we then had HARVESTING THE HEART (about a cardiologist and his neglected wife) PICTURE PERFECT (the story of a Hollywood actor who is secretly abusing his wife) and KEEPING FAITH (a divorce story where the fought-over child is named Faith.)
Now we have THE PLAIN TRUTH, which seemed simple enough to me until I realized that this tale of an Amish community in Lancaster County Pennsylvania is about people who live “plain.” Meaning that they are honest to a fault, take responsibility for their sins (both real and imagined) and try to live a Christian life.
So when gentle, sweet Katie Fisher, aged 18, is accused of murdering her baby, the ripples of that accusation shock everyone who has known her in this close-knit community. Many who know her well (her brother and suitor) state that this is impossible. People who know her less well (the “Englischers” as the Amish call them,) see plenty of reason why she would want to kill.
I am not going to give away the plot so as not to spoil this for those of you who want to experience this piece. I will only say that from the beginning I have been struck by the empathy of Ms. Picoult’s writing. It is stunning that she was able to get under the skin and into the minds of a community of people who think and see things very differently from your average American living in Philadelphia (or any big city) in the 1990s. Five stars. #jodipicoult #theplaintruth