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Salem Falls [Paperback]

Jodi Picoult
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2002
Love can redeem a man...but secrets and lies can condemn him.

A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: Once a teacher at a girls' prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets -- and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Picoult's new novel (following the acclaimed Plain Truth) is a story about rape and reputation, loosely based on The Crucible. Jack St. Bride comes to Salem Falls, N.H., after his release from prison. The former teacher and soccer coach wants to start a new life following a wrongful conviction for statutory rape. Unfortunately, Salem Falls turns out to be the wrong place to do it. He has no trouble landing a job at the local diner and winning the trust of the diner's eccentric owner, Addie, but the rest of the town is suspicious. Things get dangerous when manipulative 17-year-old Gillian Duncan, whose father owns half the town, gets interested in Jack and tries to seduce him with Wiccan love spells. Then Gillian is assaulted in the woods, and Jack is accused of the crime. As the courtroom battle unfolds, many secrets are revealed, and Picoult's characters are forced to confront the difference between who people are and who they say they are. The difference is considerable: despite the townspeople's aura of virtue, by the end of the book we're hard pressed to find any women who have never been raped or threatened, or any men who are really innocent of violence. While Picoult seems ambivalent about the power of Wiccan spells, she has no doubts about the power of sex and violence to change lives. Some of her characters, though, can be almost disturbingly forgiving. Genuinely suspenseful and at times remarkably original, this romance-mystery-morality play will gain Picoult new readers although her treatment of the aftermath of rape may also make her a few enemies. Agent, Laura Gross. 10-city author tour. (Apr. 10) Forecast: Picoult tastefully tackled touchy subject matter in Plain Truth, but she tips toward sensationalism here. That may gain her readers in the short run, but could undermine her reputation over time.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When Jack St. Bride arrives in the small town of Salem Falls, all he wants is to escape his past. He's spent the last eight months in jail, after being falsely accused of having an affair with an underage student at the school where he taught. In Salem Falls, he gets a job as a dishwasher at a local diner and tentatively begins a romance with the diner's owner, Addie, who is still mourning the death of her young daughter, born after Addie was raped in high school by three drunk boys. As she and Jack fall in love, they both see hope for the future. But their newfound love is threatened when the residents of Salem Falls learn of Jack's conviction and begin harassing him. When, predictably, a teenage girl accuses Jack of raping her, he finds himself back in jail, fighting a serious charge and the town's prejudice. Addie wrestles with her doubts and memories of her own rape, but she believes in Jack and goes on a quest of her own to find out the truth about Jack's initial conviction, even as the Salem Falls trial opens. Unfortunately, the novel spirals down into cliche, toward an all-too-predictable ending. There are some interesting elements here (such as Addie's inability to accept the death of her daughter), but the novel doesn't rise above its formulaic plot. Still, Picoult's previous novels, including Keeping Faith (1999) and The Pact (1998), have garnered a large audience, especially in book-discussion groups. Expect her latest to generate some demand, but buy cautiously. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars probably but not Picoult's best Feb. 9 2002
I have to preface this by saying that I have read all of Jodi Picoult's books, and always wait anxiously for her next to arrive. She is an incredible writer, who always has compelling and interesting plots and characters, but Salem Falls was not up to her usual standards.
It starts with a bang -- a brilliant Ph.D who landed himself in prison with false charges of statatory rape gets out and settles in Salem Falls, a quaint, nothing ever happens, type of North East coast town. I was immediately drawn to his character as well as that of the woman who "takes him in," Addie. She is a woman tied to the past, and psychologically impacted by it -- afraid that those she loves will leave her, and unwilling to accept that those she has lost are truly gone. It takes her many years, for example, to accept that her daughter has passed away.
Aside from these two likeable characters and some less visible ones, the main characters are four teenagers. One of whom accuses Jack of rape, puts him on trial, and has the whole town defending her. And this is where the book lost its draw for me. The punch of a start fizzled out half way through as I began to piece together everything I knew would happen next, and it did. The ending might have been a surprise, had I not guessed it at the very beginning. And had I not been drawn to Jack, longing for him to earn the respect he deserves, I might have given up.
I suppose if I had never read Picoult, this one might have appealed to me. But my expectations were so high that this was a let down. All of her other books are incredible, this one, mediocre in my opinion. But I would still recommend it, just not before any of her other jewels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A winner! June 16 2004
SALEM FALLS by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult does it again with SALEM FALLS, a story about a man who is falsely accused of rape. Jack St. Bride was a teacher and soccer coach at a small town high school, when he is accused of rape and is sentenced to 8 months in prison. When he is released, he finds his way to another small town, Salem Falls, to start a new life, hoping that anonymity will give him the peace he is looking for.
The wheels of fate start turning when he has to report in to the local police department and let them know he is a sex-offender. In this small town, gossip spreads fast, and soon the entire town learns who Jack really is. Only two people feel that he is innocent of the crime he was accused of back home: Addie Peabody, who owns the "Do-or-Diner" and her father, Roy Peabody. Both of them are dealing with losses that have greatly affected their current life, and in some way they can relate to Jack as he struggles to escape from his past.
At the heart of this story is the theme of "the witch hunt", as the towns people watch Jack closely with condemning eyes as they wait for him to make his first mistake. He is then accused of yet another rape, this time accused by the only daughter of the richest man in Salem Falls. Jodi Picoult keeps the reader guessing, as even the reader isn't sure whether Jack is guilty or not. As with KEEPING FAITH and THE PACT, this book ends in the courtroom, and it is anyone's guess what the final verdict will be.
This is yet another Jodi Picoult book that I enjoyed a lot. Although it took me a while to get into the story, as I had a hard time relating to the teens who practiced witchcraft, it all came together in the end. Highly recommended, I am giving this book five stars.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Disappointed - Not What I Expected Dec 23 2011
By Lydia - Novel Escapes TOP 500 REVIEWER
I didn't find my first Jodi Picoult novel a huge success and although I enjoyed it and never at any point did I hate it and want to put it down, I found it just didn't grab my attention like I hoped. The problem might have been that I read the Jeffrey Archer's novel `A Prisoner of Birth' early last year which also featured a trial and a suspect that you want to believe is innocent and results in a lengthy trial. Unfortunately Picoult's book paled in comparison and I wish we had read a different one of her novels to start with.

I was intrigued with the beginning of this book, but got bored about a third of the way through and already figured out the end well before I was supposed to. I could appreciate Picoult's writing and marveled at her ability to paint her characters in just a few short strokes so they were memorable even if they only played a small part in the story and if you needed to remember them later, you could.

Unfortunately I wanted more from this book and won't be deterred from reading another of Picoult's novels, but I would recommend Archer's book over this one if you're looking for a fast paced story about a trial.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Nov. 3 2007
I really enjoyed this book. At times I was a little annoyed with some of the characters, specifically Gillian and her rich hot shot father, however not everyone in real life is pleasing either. I couldn't put the book down, mainly because I wanted to find out the verdict of course. I really enjoyed Jack as a character and that helped me feel for his character and want to read more!!
I would recommend this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Salem Falls is Awesome!!! May 5 2004
By L. Hall
I just don't understand how writers can be so brilliant. But
Jodi Picoult is truly one exceptional author, and this is only the first book I've read by her. The writing was excellent. The
pages just begged to be turned.
Jack has been falsely accused of felonious
sexual assault and pleads no contest to get less of a sentencing. Afterwards he heads to Salem Falls to start a new life for himself. Somehow rumors of Jack's past follow him and it's deja vu all over again.
This book was excellent. I laughed, I cried. There's nothing better than a good book, and this is one of them:)
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Just awful
A display of her books in the local bookstore led me to give this immensely popular author a try. I did not expect great literature, but I hoped for some diversion and a clever... Read more
Published on May 7 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man's Perspective
While sipping too-strong coffee in the bookstore cafe, I stumbled across the name Jodi Picoult in a Writer's Digest article on writing page-turners. Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by T. R. Volk
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
This was a good, solid read, even though you have to wonder if this guy has the worst luck or is just not savvy enough to try to keep himself out of compromising situations. Read more
Published on March 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars She Does it Again...
One again Jodi Picoult manages to weave a plot of vulnerability, superstition, and the never-ceasing power of love.
Upon arriving in the small town of Salem Falls, Jack St. Read more
Published on Dec 10 2003 by Melissa
4.0 out of 5 stars Predictible, Yet Riveting
Very early on I knew what would be revealed on the last page. Yes, I took genetics in college. And despite some overly "feel good moments" I think a lot of the events... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars A man tries to escape his past.
Jodi Picoult pulls out all of the stops in her novel, "Salem Falls." Jack St. Bride is a handsome young man who was imprisoned after being unjustly convicted for... Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2003 by E. Bukowsky
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this book in 3 days
Like "Plain Truth" I couldn't put this book down. Jodi Picoults writting grabs ahold of you at the beginning of the book and doesn't let go until the last page. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2003 by "marytopping23"
4.0 out of 5 stars Salem Falls
This was my first Jodi Picoult book, and I loved it. I'm not one to try to analyze a book, so I did not see the ending coming. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Our book club chose Salem Falls as one of our selections. I found it predictable and boring, and unfortunately, skimmed the second half of the book. Read more
Published on April 28 2003
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