Title: The Pact: A Love Story
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Avon Books
Copyright Date: 2006
Emily Gold and Chris Harte were destined to be together. Inseparable since birth, their parents hope they will eventually be married and unite the two families. This seems like an increasingly likely possibility when Emily’s and Chris’ relationship becomes romantic in high school.
The parents are shocked when they receive a call that their children have been injured. Emily is dead upon arrival, while Chris suffers from a minor head injury. The tragedy appears to be the botched attempt of a suicide pact, but when Emily’s autopsy reveals that she is pregnant, Chris’ innocence is brought into question.
The devastated parents are forced to reconcile with Emily’s death and accept the fact that maybe they did not know their children as well as they thought they did.
This book really brings to the forefront of our minds the question: how well do people really know their kids? In light of recent tragedies such as school shootings, this is a very interesting question to address. Some people blame the parents for not seeing the “signs” and preventing the tragedy from occurring, but as someone with a mentally ill brother I recognize that such behavior is not at all predictable. Emily’s parents have trouble believing that their little girl would want to die. To them she seemed like a well-adjusted girl with bright future. Chris was the only person who got a glimpse at the real Emily, and his intense love for her heavily influenced his own decision to assist her with her suicide. This brings into question another moral dilemma that plagues our society: should people be allowed to assist other people in committing suicide? Most people would prefer to look at this on a case by case basis, but this book really showcases the lasting impact of such a decision.
Reader’s Annotation: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy will do anything to make girl happy.
About the Author:
“Picoult studied creative writing with Mary Morris at Princeton, and had two short stories published in Seventeen magazine while still a student. Realism – and a profound desire to be able to pay the rent – led Picoult to a series of different jobs following her graduation: as a technical writer for a Wall Street brokerage firm, as a copywriter at an ad agency, as an editor at a textbook publisher, and as an 8th grade English teacher – before entering Harvard to pursue a master’s in education. She married Tim Van Leer, whom she had known at Princeton, and it was while she was pregnant with her first child that she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale.”
Genre: Young adult, realistic fiction, romance
Curriculum Ties: N/A
- Describe what the parents feel when they receive the dreaded phone call informing them that their children are hurt.
- Describe Emily’s mixed feelings about her relationship with Chris.
Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18
Challenge Issues: teen sex, molestation, suicide
Chapter 5 of Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002)
Justification of Selection: Although this novel touches on difficult subject matter, it is a realistic depiction of daily teen struggles and honestly portrays a teen with mental health issues.
Picoult, J. (n.d.). About the author – her life & work. Jodi Picoult. Retrieved from http://www.jodipicoult.com/JodiPicoult.html