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Second Glance: A Novelby Jodi Picoult
Synopses & Reviews
"Sometimes I wonder....Can a ghost find you, if she wants to?"
An intricate tale of love, haunting memories, and renewal, Second Glance begins in current-day Vermont, where an old man puts a piece of land up for sale and unintentionally raises protest from the local Abenaki Indian tribe, who insist it's a burial ground. When odd, supernatural events plague the town of Comtosook, a ghost hunter is hired by the developer to help convince the residents that there's nothing spiritual about the property.
Enter Ross Wakeman, a suicidal drifter who has put himself in mortal danger time and again. He's driven his car off a bridge into a lake. He's been mugged in New York City and struck by lightning in a calm country field. Yet despite his best efforts, life clings to him and pulls him ever deeper into the empty existence he cannot bear since his fiancée's death in a car crash eight years ago. Ross now lives only for the moment he might once again encounter the woman he loves. But in Comtosook, the only discovery Ross can lay claim to is that of Lia Beaumont, a skittish, mysterious woman who, like Ross, is on a search for something beyond the boundary separating life and death. Thus begins Jodi Picoult's enthralling and ultimately astonishing story of love, fate, and a crime of passion.
Hailed by critics as a "master" storyteller (Washington Post), Picoult once again "pushes herself, and consequently the reader, to think about the unthinkable" (Denver Post). Second Glance, her eeriest and most engrossing work yet, delves into a virtually unknown chapter of American history — Vermont's eugenics project of the 1920s and 30s — to provide a compelling study of the things that come back to haunt us — literally and figuratively. Do we love across time, or in spite of it?
When a man attempts to sell a piece of his land, the local tribe of Abenaki Indians rises up in protest, claiming the land is a burial ground of their ancestors. The developer seeking to purchase the property retains a "ghost hunter" to convince the townspeople that there is nothing spiritual about the land. Enter Ross Wakeman, a suicidal drifter who has taken up the ghost hunting trade in hopes of crossing paths with his fiancee, who died eight years ago in a car crash. He has yet to experience anything even remotely paranormal...until he meets Lia.
For the first time in eight years, Ross finds himself drawn to another woman. On the night when he finally shares a kiss with Lia, she abruptly flees. Ross runs after her into the woods and stumbles upon an eighty-year-old gravestone — upon which Lia's name is etched. Thus begins Ross's enthralling and ultimately astonishing journey of fate, coincidence, and discovery of a crime long hidden in Vermont's history. Jodi Picoult's most engrossing work, Second Glance considers the things that come to haunt us, literally and figuratively, and asks whether love persists across time, or in spite of it.
About the Author
Jodi Picoult is the 2003 New England Book Award Winner for Fiction, honoring her for her body of work.
Picoult was born and raised — happily — on Long Island. "I had such an uneventful childhood that much later, when I was taking writing classes at college, I called home and yelled at my mother, wishing for a little incest or abuse on the side," recalls Picoult. "Good writers, I thought at the time, had to have something to write about. It took me a while to realize that I already did have something to write about — that solid core of family, and of relationships, which seem to form a connective thread through my books."
Her novels, which all center on what it means to love someone, have come out in rapid-fire succession: Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), which Picoult wrote when she was six months pregnant with her first child; Harvesting the Heart (1994), which she describes as a reflection of her feelings as a new mother — and her most emotionally autobiographical novel; Picture Perfect (1995); Mercy (1996), a novel about married love and if it's really 50/50 (Picoult says she and husband Tim are still debating this); The Pact (1998); Keeping Faith (1999); Plain Truth (2000); Salem Falls (2001); Perfect Match; and Second Glance 2003 .
Picoult says she really learned to write at Princeton, where she studied creative writing with Mary Morris, who urged her to submit a story to Seventeeen magazine. Picoult was stunned when they published it and a second story a bit later. "That's when I thought I could be a writer," says Picoult.
However, when she graduated from Princeton, she headed not for the word processor, but for Wall Street, and followed that with stints at a textbook publishing company and an ad agency. She also taught creative writing part-time at a high school, got her master's degree in education at Harvard, and married Tim, whom she'd known at Princeton. Soon she was pregnant and had written a thousand page manuscript, which became Songs of the Humpback Whale.
It took a while, but Picoult says she has reconciled writing and motherhood. "I'm a better mother because I have my writing and I'm a better writer because of the experiences of motherhood that have shaped me." At this point, Picoult sees her list of novels growing, but not her family.
"There's nothing more interesting than crawling into a character's head — a head I created, that nonetheless seems to have a mind all its own."
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