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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
SECOND GLANCE starts off rather clunky with Picoult introducing at least a dozen characters, all with their own viewpoints. It's hard to know who's really important.
The lead character, Ross Wakeman, is a kind of ghost buster with suicidal tendencies. He wants to join his fiancée, Aimie, who had been killed in a car accident that he feels guilty about. He's already tried to kill himself a couple of times.
Newton Redhook, a development company, hires Wakeman to prove there are no ghosts on property it has acquired from an old man named Spencer Pike. Stephen Kingisms abound. Rose petals fall from the sky, the ground freezes in the middle of August, the town drunk wakes one morning with his straight hair turned curly,
and while Ross is videotaping the place, he meets a woman who seems as mortal as he is, until she walks through a gravestone. But it's too late; he's already fallen in love with another dead woman.
Gradually, very gradually, Picoult begins to connect the people she introduced at the beginning of the book and that's when it gets good. You see, Spencer Pike, owner of the haunted land, had a wife who was apparenty murdered along with her baby daughter and she's the woman Ross has fallen for.
Picoult very adroitly uses historical background to make SECOND GLANCE more than just a ghost story. You see, back when he was a young man, Spencer Pike was one of the prime movers of the Eugenics movement, a "voluntary" sterilization project which the Nazis used as a model for their own program. Pike and his fellow scientists believed criminal behavior was inherited and could be eliminated by preventing these people from passing on their genes.
Throw in a 102-year-old Abenaki Indian with multiple identifies and you've got an enthralling summer read.
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on April 13, 2003
SECOND GLANCE, Jodi Picoult's newest novel, is an extraordinary "genre-hybrid." The confluence of its parts --- ghost story, love story, historical novel, paranormal/supernatural tale --- converges to offer readers a book that roars with superlative dialogue, radiates with interesting characters (alive and dead) and floats in the ether above the mediocre. The elements of redemption, the qualities of love and the definition of family raise questions about integrity, respect, prejudice, memory, medical ethics and "things that go bump in the night."
The book opens with these words: "Ross Wakeman succeeded the first time he killed himself, but not the second or the third." No matter how hard he tries, Ross Wakeman fails to accomplish what he most wants to do with his life --- end it! After the death of his fiancée, eight years in the past, he is still deeply mourning her, which has left him mired in a state of stasis. This inability to move inspires him to become a ghost hunter, a "job" through which he hopes to reconnect with his lost love. Unfortunately, his career is short-lived and he returns to Comtosook, Vermont, where his sister and her son live their strange life. Ross is depressed, frustrated and nursing feelings of failure.
The town of Comtosook is in an uproar since old man Spencer Pike sold a parcel of land to a development company that plans to build a strip mall. Trouble begins as soon as the news reaches the Abenaki Indians, who believe the property is a sacred burial ground. They are committed to save the land of their ancestors and picket the site. "You dig up [our ancestors'] resting place, it stands to reason that whatever you build on here isn't going to be at peace." In order to prove the ground is not sacred in any way, Rod van Vleet, the company representative, hires Ross to find any ghosts lurking there and evict them. Ross reluctantly agrees to get involved and enlists the help of his nephew, Ethan, who suffers from XP (xeroderma pigmentosum: a fatal disease that prohibits exposure to sunlight) and is thus delighted to accompany his uncle on a nighttime stakeout.
During their vigil, Wakeman sees a movement in the woods and, when he follows it, he finds Lia, a very young, very gentle, very frightened, very sad woman whose ethereal aura captures his heart. He simply falls in love. They meet secretly because she is terrified of her husband --- or so she says. From this point on, we enter a "twilight zone" that is at times soulful, disorienting and funny.
Lia's appearance inspires the local sheriff to open an unsolved murder case that dates back to 1932. After her presence has been noted, a host of weird events begins to overtake the town. Rose petals fall like snowflakes, people have trouble discerning the truth from their dreams, the disputed land freezes in August and everyday something new emerges to confound, disturb and bring chaos to the seemingly bucolic town.
In a powerful parallel storyline, we learn about a horrific episode in Vermont's history, events that Picoult explains in her Author's Note: " � the Vermont Eugenics Project in the 1920s and 1930s � is a chapter of history that has only recently been rediscovered and still causes great pain and shame to Vermonters of many different cultural backgrounds." She goes on to explain that her main characters are fictional but the off-stage father of the program, Henry E. Perkins, was a real person. "� He was a professor of zoology at the University of Vermont who originated the Eugenics Survey � in conjunction with his course on heredity. He believed that through research, public education and support for legislation, the growing population of [the state's] most problematic citizens might be reduced. His leadership was instrumental in bringing about the passage of Vermont's Sterilization Law in 1931�." At the time, thirty-three other states had similar laws on their books. But not until after World War II, when Nazi scientists testified at the war crimes trials that the "American eugenics programs were the prototypes of their "racial hygiene plans", did any state even modify these statutes.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, "at [the] Generra Institute in Maryland, Dr. Meredith Oliver," is [ironically] busy at work "doing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis�." She specializes in separating genes that carry inherited diseases from healthy genes in order for couples to end the genetic defects in their family. Her daughter, Lucy, is an asthmatic eight-year-old who sees ghosts and hears them whisper. She is haunted by visitations that terrify her and Meredith. While she loves her daughter, Meredith is a busy woman who has little patience for what she thinks are simply attention-getting outbursts. The child is cared for by her great grandmother, Ruby, who has secrets of her own.
All of the characters and plot twists in SECOND GLANCE, while seeming to be "out of this world", are surprisingly credible enough to make the complexities of this novel work. This is Jodi Picoult's best book to date. And, for those of you who shiver at the thought of "things that go bump in the night", have no fear --- this ghost story will keep you entertained and at times howling with laughter. Enjoy!
--- Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum
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on June 11, 2003
It took me nearly 200 pages to really get into this book, and if I didn't have faith that Jodi Picoult would take the story somewhere I might have given up. It begins with a lot of characters, many different stories, and a seeming lack of direction. However, she manages to tie all of the characters and plots together beautifully in a compelling and unique story.
Although the last couple of Jodi Picoult's books have been let downs to me, this one lived up to my somewhat lowered expectations. Picoult delves into an unchartered territory of ghosts and Indians in Vermont, alternating from an unsolved mystery of the 1930's with present day Vermont. Despite somewhat predictable relationship dramas, the rest of this book, it's rich historical basis as well as compelling characters, make for a great read.
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on June 11, 2003
It took me nearly 200 pages to really get into this book, and if I didn't have faith that Jodi Picoult would take the story somewhere I might have given up. It begins with a lot of characters, many different stories, and a seeming lack of direction. However, she manages to tie all of the characters and plots together beautifully in a compelling and unique story.
Although the last couple of Jodi Picoult's books have been letdowns to me, this one lived up to my somewhat lowered expectations. Picoult delves into an unchartered territory of ghosts and Indians in Vermont, alternating from an unsolved mystery of the 1930's with present day Vermont. Despite somewhat predictable relationship dramas, the rest of this book, it's rich historical basis as well as compelling characters, make for a great read.
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on September 24, 2003
I haven't been reading much fiction lately, but my mother talked me into this one that she had read from her book club. A ghostly story of sorts, which I love, I was immediately drawn into it. The main character is a man who is convinced he cannot die; he survived a car wreck that killed his true love and ever since then has been trying to reach "the other side". The plot takes so many twists and turns, you will not be able to put the book down, and you will be sad when it's done. The characters are very real and almost become your friends as you read. I would definitely recommend this book for some semi-light reading on a rainy weekend. :)
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on April 11, 2003
I really love reading this authors books. I would have given this 5 stars but I found it a little slow getting into. I loved the part of the story that takes place in 1932 and follows Cissy (Lia's} life.
It is a marvelous story based on fact in the state of Vermont and the sterilazation laws that were passed. It is also the story of lost love and second chances. It is also a "ghost" story of sorts. I loved reading it and was sorry to see it end. This one will make you think and maybe even give you interest in your own history.
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on October 18, 2003
Second Glance is my first novel by Jodi Picoult and based on her storytelling abilites, certainly will not be my last. The author takes such unlikely topics as eugenics and Native American history and weaves them into a compelling story of love, murder, mystery and ghosts. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable this one is worthy of a look.
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on July 3, 2003
I liked this book, because of the writing style and how every character fits together. You can't help feeling and falling in love with Ross. I couldn't help feeling for the characters and rooting for them. I took my time reading this novel because I really enjoyed it and wanted it to continue on with the story.
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on May 1, 2003
Not Jodi Picoult's usual book. I have read most and she gets better all the time. I liked the historical aspect regarding the elimination off a whole people by weeding of non desirable traits. The information horrified me. This novel will breed a whole new group of Jodi Picoult's fans.
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on March 10, 2011
For some reason it took me a few chapters to get into this book. I am a Big Jodi Picolt fan and got pleasantly surprised as the story kept my interest until the last page. Loved it, loved it.
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