Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book 11 of 50: Picture Perfect by Jodi Piccoult

Ok, so I finished the book a way long time ago and just never wrote the blog. But I do oh-so-love having these posts to go back to and help me remember what I've read so far this year. So I'm going to write this one any way. It will be short, I promise. 

SPOILER ALERT: I am about to spoil some stuff, so if you ever plan on reading this and you want to figure it out as the author intended, stop reading, NOW.

Ok, so this book, like all Picoult books, addresses a serious and touchy issue: domestic violence. The main character is a woman who falls in love with a famous actor and they have a seemingly picture perfect relationship. In reality, he has untreated psychological issues from his father and the only coping mechanism he knows how to use when he is triggered is to beat up his wife. He fears becoming a father himself which is borne from a desire to stop the violence and abuse from continuing for another generation. 

She becomes pregnant and when she tells him, he beats her to the point that she blacks out, after walking to the middle of a cemetery. She wakes up not knowing who she is. She meets a man with his own issues, but who agrees to take her in until they can find someone who knows her. 

Eventually her husband finds her and acts like an angel. She can't remember the abuse, at first. Her memories slowly return and she leaves him to have her child in a safe and peaceful environment. She wrestles with what to do with her husband: stay and try to work it out while putting her child and herself in very real and serious danger OR publicly humiliate the man she truly loves and possibly ruin his entire career and most definitely end any possibility of a future reconcilation. 

Which would you choose? 

What I found most intriguing, and what pulls me back repeatedly to this author, is how I begin considering options I have never thought as even remotely logical before. She didn't just write a story about hating on men who physically abuse their significant others, but addressed the possible sources of that abuse. She never excused what he did as appropriate, healthy, or acceptable, because it isn't. Abuse isn't okay, but she did tell the story from both sides, how neither wanted to leave the other, but both realize they can't live like this any more, but it seems impossible to change. It just really wrenches your heart, and doesn't end happily ever after either way. Especially with a child involved. 

Disclaimer: I've never been in a physically abusive relationship, and I don't dare step into that realm and claim to know what is best. I'm just trying to share my simple understanding of this particular book and the specific, fictional characters it holds.

If you or someone you know is in a physically abusive relationship, please get help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). 

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