BookBrowse Reviews The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

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

The Tenth Circle

A Novel

by Jodi Picoult

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult X
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 400 pages
    Oct 2006, 416 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book



A story that probes the unbreakable bond between parent and child -- and the dangerous repercussions of trying to play the hero. Novel

From the book jacket: Trixie Stone is fourteen years old and in love for the first time. She's also the light of her father's life - a straight-A student; a freshman in high school who is pretty and popular; a girl who's always looked up to Daniel Stone as a hero. Until, that is, her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence...and suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family - and herself - seems to be a lie.

For fifteen years, Daniel Stone has been an even-tempered, mild-mannered man: a stay-at-home dad to Trixie and a husband who has put his own career as a comic book artist behind that of his wife, Laura, who teaches Dante's Inferno at a local college. But years ago, he was completely different: growing up as the only white boy in an Eskimo village, he was teased mercilessly for the color of his skin. He learned to fight back: stealing, drinking, robbing, and cheating his way out of the Alaskan bush. To become part of a family, he reinvented himself, channeling his rage onto the page and burying his past completely...until now. Could the young boy who once made Trixie's face fill with light when he came to the door have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a man with a history he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back in order to protect his daughter.

Comment: In her 13th book Picoult does what she does best - creates a fast-paced tale that explores a hot button issue.  In this case teen sexual activity, and more specifically date rape; she also throws in some thought provoking explorations on whether it's ever possible to let go of past mistakes in order to reinvent oneself.  In addition, she adds an extra twist by collaborating with comic book artist Dustin Weaver, who has created a graphic novel set within her text. 

The graphic novel is purported written by Daniel, Trixie's dad who is a comic-book artist.  Daniel's central character is similar to himself - a formerly violent teenager brought up as the only white boy in an Alaskan Inuit village. Every chapter contains some pages from Daniel's book which, rather than distracting from the narrative, make it possible to show a different point of view in a novel fashion.

Some reviewers thought this mix worked well, such as The Houston Chronicle reviewer who wrote, "novels and comic books exhibit many differences. But in Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle, the reader witnesses a marriage of the two — and it's a marriage made in heaven.   On the other hand, Publishers Weekly felt that the "drawings, though well-done, distract from the powerful picture she has drawn with words". Another reviewer felt that the Dante metaphor was overly labored. 

In response to the question, "Have any of the early reactions to The Tenth Circle surprised you?", Jodi replies ....

A lot of people have been reevaluating the way they read a story, which I just love, because that's part of the reason why I wrote the book. Some people want to absorb the art just where it is, mid-narrative. Some read the graphic novel first. Some save it for last. Most people are entranced by the way the art is just art until the narrative is added to it, almost as if there's a chemical reaction…resulting in insight into Daniel's character. Oh, and they seem to be having a good time searching for the hidden message in the art.

Parents who've read the book keep pulling me aside to desperately ask, "That teen sex stuff; the parties…that's all fiction, right?" I think that peeling back the surface layer of what teenagers are really doing intimately with each other is startling for adults to blatantly see and hear – I anticipated that reaction. What took me by surprise, however, are the number of young women who've written to me to say that they were date raped, and never told anyone, because they were sure it was their fault in some way – they hadn't expressed NO clearly enough. I think Trixie's experience mirrors theirs, and validates their feelings – which allows them to open up about something they've hidden for years. Things like this are humbling -- when you write fiction you don't expect to make a profound difference in someone's real life.  Read more from this interview.

The bottom-line is that The Tenth Circle will probably not go down as one of Picoult's strongest books, nonetheless it's a page-turning read on a topical subject, and one that many, particularly parents of teens, should find of interest.

This review is from the December 6, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    by Walter Isaacson
    The name Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most recognized in all of Western history, and his ...
  • Book Jacket: The Immortalists
    The Immortalists
    by Chloe Benjamin
    On a summer day in 1969 in New York City, the Gold children agree to seek out a mysterious ...
  • Book Jacket: The Kites
    The Kites
    by Romain Gary, Miranda Richmond Mouillot
    Published by New Directions for the first time in English, Romain Gary's The Kites tells a story of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Dry by Jane Harper

Winner of the 2017 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Days When Birds Come Back
    by Deborah Reed

    A graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Mothers of Sparta

Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir

A dazzling literary memoir with shades of Mary Karr, Anne Lamott and Jenny Lawson.


Word Play

Sorry, we do not currently have an active wordplay!

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.