Excerpt from Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Salem Falls

by Jodi Picoult

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult X
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2001, 448 pages
    Jul 2002, 448 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Addie crouched down beside his chair. "Daddy," she whispered.

Roy blinked. "My girl."

Tears sprang to her eyes. "I need you to do me a favor. The diner, it's too busy for me to take care of. I need you -- "

"Oh, Addie. Don't."

"Just the register. You won't ever have to go into the kitchen."

"You don't need me to work the register. You just want to keep tabs on me."

Addie flushed. "That's not true."

"It's all right." He covered her hand with his own and squeezed. "Every now and then it's nice to know that someone cares where I am."

Addie opened her mouth to say the things she should have said years ago to her father, all those months after her mother's death when she was too busy keeping the diner afloat to notice that Roy was drowning, but the telephone interrupted her. Delilah was on the other end. "Get down here," the cook said. "Your bad day? It just got worse."

"Did you say something?" The cab driver's eyes met Jack's in the rearview mirror.


"This look familiar yet?"

Jack had lied to the driver -- what was one more lie in a long string of others? -- confessing that he couldn't remember the name of the town he was headed toward but that Route 10 ran right through its middle. He would recognize it, he said, as soon as Main Street came into view.

Now, forty minutes later, he glanced out the window. They were driving through a village, small but well-heeled, with a New England steepled white church and women in riding boots darting into stores to run their errands. It reminded him too much of the prep-school town of Loyal, and he shook his head. "Not this one," he said.

What he needed was a place where he could disappear for a while -- a place where he could figure out how to start all over again. Teaching -- well, that was out of the question now. But it was also all he'd ever done. He'd worked at Westonbrook for four years...an awfully big hole to omit in a job interview for any related field. And even a McDonald's manager could ask him if he'd ever been convicted of a crime.

Lulled by the motion of the taxi, he dozed off. He dreamed of an inmate he'd worked with on farm duty. Aldo's girlfriend would commute to Haverhill and leave treasures in the cornfield for him: whiskey, pot, instant coffee. Once, she set herself up naked on a blanket, waiting for Aldo to come over on the tractor. "Drive slow," Aldo would say, when they went out to harvest. "You never know what you're going to find."

"Salem Falls coming up," the cab driver announced, waking him.

A hand-lettered blue placard announced the name of the town and proclaimed it home of Duncan Pharmaceuticals. The town was built outward from a central green, crowned by a memorial statue that listed badly to the left, as if it had been rammed from the side. A bank, a general store, and a town office building were dotted along the green -- all neatly painted, walks shoveled clear of snow. Standing incongruously at the corner was a junked railroad car. Jack did a double take, and as the cab turned to follow the one-way road around the green, he realized it was a diner.

In the window was a small sign.

"Stop," Jack said. "This is the place."

Harlan Pettigrew sat at the counter, nursing a bowl of stew. A napkin was tucked over his bow tie, to prevent staining. His eyes darted around the diner, lighting on the clock.

Addie pushed through the swinging doors. "Mr. Pettigrew," she began.

The man blotted his mouth with his napkin and got to his feet. "It's about time."

"There's something I need to tell you first. You see, we've been having a little trouble with some of our appliances."

Pettigrew's brows drew together. "I see."

Suddenly the door opened. A man in a rumpled sports jacket walked in, looking cold and lost. His shoes were completely inappropriate for the season and left small puddles of melting snow on the linoleum floor. When he spotted her pink apron, he started toward her. "Excuse me -- is the owner in?"

Copyright © 2001 by Jodi Picoult. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Pocket Books.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Women & Power
    Women & Power
    by Mary Beard
    The treatise Women & Power: A Manifesto discusses a scene in Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus&...
  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.