Sunday, March 4, 2012

Second Glance: A Review

Cover image via Goodreads

In this page-turner, Ross Wakeman  is a guy who works as a PA on a paranormal investigation show that seems to be more about making money through its hoax-heavy productions than it does about anything else. Ross spends most of his time weighing the moral implications of the production's exploitation of its subjects and recovering from the death of his fiancee. A non-believer in the metaphysical of any kind, Ross tries to look for signs of life beyond the grave, but finds himself losing hope. While filming in small-town Vermont close to the home of his sister and ill nephew, he meets a mysterious waif in the woods, and his life changes forever.

I've read a lot of Picoult's books, and while some can be too gut-wrenching to fully enjoy, this one is really quite different. It has everything - Romance, Courtroom Drama, Science, and the paranormal - and Picoult pulls it off without seeming too swoony, dry, melodramatic, superior or trendy. The celebrated author navigates the politically potent waters of genetics, racism, eugenics, and religion with a steady hand - and never comes off as judgy, or opinionated. In doing so, she puts the reader into those same turbulent moral waters and asks them to make it to shore without sinking.

Piccolt not only gives us startlingly clear explanations of modern genetic advancements, but also brings into the story an accurate portrayal of the disturbing historical practice of eugenics. Jodi Piccoult carries the reader from the Native American reservations of the Northeast to scientific laboratories and 1930's courtrooms., and she does this all with so much authority one finds it hard to believe that she's never been a lawyer, a doctor, or even a production assistant on a national television show.

Even with all of her accuracy, explorations, and seriousness,, Picolt never comes of as unsentimenal, nor does she over-do. . . she simply never fails to captivate. Picoult doesn't just tell a story, she creates a world - and she does it flawlessly.

Second Glance is a must read for anyone who's ever straddled the fence between nature and invention, for anyone who's ever fully invested science, but believed, without a doubt, in the divind.

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