“Do you know what it’s like to love someone so much, you can’t see yourself without picturing her? Or what it’s like to touch someone, and feel like you’ve come home? Some people spend their whole lives looking for that one person. I was lucky enough to have her all along.” -Chris Harte
How does one go on living with a secret so dark, it would be almost impossible to continue living? In this novel titled The Pact: A Love Story, critically-acclaimed NY Times Bestseller Jodi Picoult once again secures the hearts of fans and skeptics alike with her inimitable story interwoven with page-turning suspense, densely layered with a deep aura of mystery, and of course, truly unforgettable protagonists and even more unforgettable moments that somehow compel us to think, hard, about right and wrong.
The family of Hartes, who live next-door to the Golds have long transformed into something more than just neighbors. Fate has bound them forever the first moment the Golds started moving into the quiet, upscale Wood Hollow Road neighborhood. The fact that Melanie Gold was pregnant just a few months behind Augusta Harte further sealed their kinship-theirs was really special, like that of an extended family rather than neighbors. Therefore when Chris Harte and Emily Gold were born, love, care, advice and help were dispensed to both children like they were of one and the same family. Brother and sister, best friends, playmates—they were every single bit of those. There were even moments where Chris ran and fell, but it was Emily who cried and bled, or Emily was riding her bike alone in the lawn and fell, but it was Chris who screamed in pain from inside his house. Just like two perfectly different bodies…sharing the same soul. So when both Chris and Emily’s started to evolve into something more, both the Hartes and the Golds naturally expect and welcome the change-after all, who deserve their child better than the other’s? In their minds, it was a foregone conclusion that both Chris and Emily were going to fall in love with each other and eventually tie the knot someday.
Until the fateful night where seventeen year-old Emily was found dead, with a bullet in her head.
In the arms of a tearful and bleeding Chris.
And Chris’s fingerprints all over the purported gun.
Chris’s allegation was that it was a double suicide pact that got botched at the last moment. Only that, both parents never noticed any sign of even a mild depression, or anything that indicated their respective child was feeling suicidal. And when the autopsy revealed that Emily was eleven-weeks pregnant at the time of her death, Chris’s motive for killing Emily was as solidly cemented as ever. After all, Chris was an excellent student and a star athlete, with a deeply promising writing talent that did not go unnoticed amongst teachers and friends alike. A bride and an unwelcomed pregnancy were certainly going to put a glitch to his college plans next year. And when the evidence against him started to mount, Chris was incarcerated for an alleged first-degree murder.
Picoult took us through the gripping moments with a deftness that sometimes left us feeling a little bit stunning and painful at the same time. She took the readers seamlessly from the intricacies and complexities of the human minds-be those of children, teenagers, or even matured adults, to the pervasive but subtle tension and glamour of the courtroom drama, to the grim and harsh reality of life behind bars. Every single essence of hope, hopelessness, fury, love, despair, grief, and childhood innocence was lucidly and skillfully drawn by this very talented author, albeit sometimes a tad ruthless to the readers.
Amongst others, Picoult tried to question about how well do we know our own children? Could we really look at our child straight in the eye and say ‘Of course I know you, I’m your parent. I watched you grow, every single day of my life.’? A mother could carry a priceless life in her womb who grows up to be a perfectly beautiful and talented daughter or son, like a normal child supposed to. But what happen if something happen somewhere along the way without us knowing it? Or how do we choose to ignore our pain, set aside our own selfish needs, and instead put our beloved’s wishes before us—even though in the end, we stand to lose everything, and the choice that we make would eventually kill us?
This is a deeply powerful psychological roller-coaster ride, timeless love story, gripping thriller, and a riveting courtroom drama all rolled into one. Once reaching the final page, don’t be surprised to find yourself trying to catch a breath and at the same time futilely trying to contain a tear that threatens to come out, in full force.
Reviewed by: Ummi Zara