Summary and book reviews of Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

Salem Falls

By Jodi Picoult

Salem Falls
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2001,
    448 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2002,
    448 pages.

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About this Book

Book Summary

When Jack St. Bride arrives by chance in the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls, he decides to reinvent himself. Tall, blond, and handsome, Jack was once a beloved teacher and soccer coach at a girls' prep school -- until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his reputation. Now, working for minimum wage washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, Jack buries his past, content to become the mysterious stranger who has appeared out of the blue.

With ghosts of her own haunting her, Addie Peabody is as cautious around men as Jack St. Bride is around women. But as this unassuming stranger steps smoothly into the diner's daily routine, she finds him fitting just as comfortably inside her heart -- and slowly, a gentle, healing love takes hold between them.

Yet planting roots in Salem Falls may prove fateful for Jack. Amid the white-painted centuries-old churches, a quartet of bored, privileged teenage girls have formed a coven that is crossing the line between amusement and malicious intent. Quick to notice the attractive new employee at Addie's diner, the girls turn Jack's world upside down with a shattering allegation that causes history to repeat itself -- and forces Jack to proclaim his innocence once again. Suddenly nothing in Salem Falls is as it seems: a safe haven turns dangerous, an innocent girl meets evil face-to-face, a dishwasher with a Ph.D. is revealed to be an ex-con. As Jack's hidden past catches up with him, the seams of this tiny town begin to tear, and the emerging truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray. Now Addie, desperate for answers, must look into her heart -- and into Jack's lies and shadowy secrets -- for evidence that will condemn or redeem the man she has come to love.

Chapter One


March 2000
Salem Falls,
New Hampshire

On the second worst day of Addie Peabody's life, her refrigerator and dishwasher both died, like long-term lovers who could not conceive of existing without each other. This would have been a trial for anyone, but as she was the owner of the Do-Or-Diner, it blossomed into a catas-trophe of enormous proportions. Addie stood with her hands pressed to the stainless steel door of the Sub-Zero walk-in, as if she might jump-start its heart by faith healing.

It was hard to decide what was more devastating: the health violations or the loss of potential income. Twenty pounds of dry ice, the most the medical supply store had to offer, wasn't doing the job. Within hours, Addie would have to throw away the gallon buckets of gravy, stew, and chicken soup made that morning. "I think," she said after a moment, "I'm going to build a snowman."

"Now?" asked Delilah, the cook, her crossed arms as thick as a blacksmith's. She frowned. "You...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Throughout the novel, the author uses quotes from Arthur Miller's The Crucible and from the story of Jack and Jill. How do these quotes increase your understanding of the story as a whole? In what ways do these seemingly disparate sources work in terms of the subject matter?

  2. After pretending to be sick from school, Gillian explains to her friends, "I am not faking; I'm method-acting." Method acting is often described as a tool for telling the truth of a character under imaginary circumstances. How might this definition help us better understand Gillian's actions and her motivations in this novel? What is the truth in her life that needs to be shared?

  3. The tension between truth and fiction is ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Picoult's depiction of the legal process is excellent, especially her intriguing and thorough explanation of DNA evidence, and the narrative is impressively complicated,with a couple of eye-opening surprises. A few of the resolutions, however, seem contrived, and when the language turns lyrical or metaphorical, it falls flat.

Publishers Weekly

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.

The Boston Globe

A multifaceted drama of a modern-day witch hunt that spirals to an edge-of-the-seat courtroom trial, Salem Falls is a stunning illumination by a writer gifted with a firm grasp of the delicacy and complexity of human relationships.

Reader Reviews
I am Sparta

Great
This was my first Picoult book, but i have to admit it was great. Mysterious, sexy and fun. 10 out of 5

Ellen

Unbelievable Story
I am a true fan of Jodi Picoult and once again she writes an incredible tale. The way that Addie moves throughout the story, searching for answers to her own life is amazing. The father/daughter storylines were truly genuine and I am always amazed at...   Read More

kimberly

Love can destroy a man
I loved this book! The lust that Gillian had for Jack, and her determination to destroy him was constant! Although, Jack wasn't going to have his life get thrown away without a fight. I recommend this book to everyone!

Catherine

Sadly disappointing
Again, Jodi Picoult has dragged me through what could have been a very good book only to disappoint again in the last few chapters. What could have been a cliff-hanger of a book ended up resolving every tiny detail...I would not recommend this book ...   Read More

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