Saturday Read: Plain Truth, by Jodi Picoult

For me, March is all about light reading. With my exams right around the corner (including an ominous GRE! – wish me luck!), I spend most of my days buried in textbooks, so when I grab a book for bedtime reading, I am the mood for something to take my mind off of my homework. Jodi Picoult is always a great choice for a stressful time; with each of her books, she creates an entire new world that totally enamors the reader. After reading for five minutes, I’ve forgotten about that 20-page paper that I’m putting off! And “Plain Truth” is no exception!

“Plain Truth” is set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, an area of the states known for its large Amish population. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t!), the Amish also refer to themselves as “plain”, making the title of the book that much more clever. I always appreciate cleverness, so kudos Jodi on that one! Also as usual for Picoult, at the center of “Plain Truth” is a legal battle. Eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher has been accused of smothering her newborn son, even though she claims that the baby is not hers. Katie’s aunt Leda calls on big-city attorney Ellie Hathaway (whose uncle is Leda’s husband) to defend Katie. After an initial trial, Ellie is forced to move in with the Fisher’s as part of a bail agreement with the judge. She initially resents this forced living arrangement, but Ellie comes to see that the Plain way is the key to Katie’s murder trial. Also, as Ellie grows closer to Katie and her family, Katie and her story begin to slowly unravel, ending with a shocking twist.

I’ve mentioned before that anything unfamiliar fascinates me, particularly Amish culture. I’ve even reviewed another Amish book before. That’s probably the first reason why I was so drawn to “Plain Truth.” Picoult has really done her research and shows the reader all sorts of quirks of the Amish. She incorporates the Amish religion, including church services and confessions and Rumspringa, which is a period of time from when an Amish teen is 16 until they either choose to be baptized Amish or leave the church (and subsequently their family).

As Katie is 18, she is going through Rumspringa in the book, and  it was very neat to see the secular world through the eyes of an Amish girl. And in Picoult’s typical fashion, she writes a completely and totally engaging book. Not only was the trial of an Amish person fascinating, but she even included a psychologist character in this novel and as a psych major, I LOVED him. I think psychological assessments are such a critical part of a trial and really appreciated Picoult’s attempt to include one.

Overall, “Plain Truth” did not disappoint! As with all Picoult’s book, a similar format was followed, but the story is completely unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read. If you need a break from reality, “Plain Truth” is perfect!

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