Summary and book reviews of The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

The Tenth Circle

A Novel

by Jodi Picoult

The Tenth Circle
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 416 pages

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Book Summary

Looks at that delicate moment when a child learns that her parents don't know all of the answers and when being a good parent means letting go of your child.

Jodi Picoult, the New York Times bestselling author of Vanishing Acts, offers her most powerful chronicle yet of an American family with a story that probes the unbreakable bond between parent and child -- and the dangerous repercussions of trying to play the hero.

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.

The Tenth Circle looks at that delicate moment when a child learns that her parents don't know all of the answers and when being a good parent means letting go of your child. It asks whether you can reinvent yourself in the course of a lifetime or if your mistakes are carried forever -- if life is, as in any good comic book, a struggle to control good and evil, or if good and evil control you.

The Secret Message: Many people have written to us asking what the secret message is hidden in Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle. Here is the answer.

Prologue

December 23, 2005

This is how it feels when you realize your child is missing: The pit of your stomach freezes fast, while your legs go to jelly. There's one single, blue-bass thud of your heart. The shape of her name, sharp as metal filings, gets caught between your teeth even as you try to force it out in a shout. Fear breathes like a monster into your ear: Where did I see her last? Would she have wandered away? Who could have taken her? And then, finally, your throat seals shut, as you swallow the fact that you've made a mistake you will never be able to fix.

The first time it happened to Daniel Stone, a decade ago, he had been visiting Boston. His wife was at a colloquium at Harvard; that was a good enough reason to take a family vacation. While Laura sat on her panel, Daniel pushed Trixie's stroller the cobbled length of the Freedom Trail. They fed the ducks in the Public Garden; they watched the sloe-eyed sea turtles doing water ballet at...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Fourteen-year-old Trixie has been a ghost for fourteen days, seven hours, and thirty-six minutes now, not that she is officially counting. Trixie's protective father has been consumed with attempts to shield her from a new life, one that includes a boy with a proprietary hand around his daughter's waist. But Daniel Stone never for a moment suspected that the same boy might inflict upon his daughter the worst possible harm. Could the boy who once made Trixie's face fill with light when he came to the door have drugged and then raped her? She says that he did, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a man with a past hidden even from his family, consider taking matters into his own hands in order to protect his daughter.

This ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (789 words).

Media Reviews

Orlando Sentinel - Kris Hey

As she is known for in her writing, Picoult skillfully twists and turns this story in so many ways, keeping readers wondering how things will turn out until nearly the last, satisfying page.

The Houston Chronicle - Christopher DeGasero

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 ...The Tenth Circle is strong enough as only a novel. But when coupled with its illustrated counterpart, it becomes a treat for both the mind and the eye.

The Washington Post

If Picoult had retained this tight focus on Trixie's experience, The Tenth Circle might have had the power of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones or Rosellen Brown's Before And After . Instead, the novel veers off into an increasingly implausible chain of events.

Kirkus Reviews

Picoult fumbles in this 13th novel of, predictably, a family in crisis ... As a third-act whodunit-the culprit is an easy guess-the story fails. Picoult, who is so often an inventive andcompelling storyteller, relies here on convention and sentimentality.

Publisher's Weekly

.... the drawings, though well-done, distract from the powerful picture she has drawn with words .... Picoult drives the story with the heavy-handed Dante metaphor - not the characters. Still, this story of a flawed family on the brink of destruction grips from start to finish.

Library Journal

Picoult doesn't guarantee a happy ending, but something here just missed its mark.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

Picoult's sad, complex novel should appeal to the many readers who have enjoyed her previous works.

Reader Reviews

Michelle

Loved it.
I actually loved this book. I love most of her other works, and I fell in love with the father, Daniel. How he seemed to be this monster, trapped inside himself, but hidden away to protect his family.

Kearstin

Similarities
The words in Jodi Picoult's book seemed to have jumped out at me, the realizations of the disconnection between children and their parents seemed to just draw me in like a bug to a light. The sexual conflict of a young girl being raped and not ...   Read More

Cassie

The Tenth Circle
It was a great read for me. Being a 17 year old, I know what it feels like to have peer pressure to look beautiful and to have my status based on that and the boy my arm is hooked with. It was also gripping for me to see the extent that a father ...   Read More

Jan Brady

The Tenth Circle: Jodi Picoult
This is an excellent book! It shows a very young a naive girl named Trixie who is very young and naive about dating. She does everything she can to make her ex-boyfriend stay with her. This is a great book for people who have ever been through a ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Jodi Picoult is the author of Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), Harvesting the Heart (1994), Picture Perfect (1995), Mercy (1996), The Pact (1998); Keeping Faith (1999), Plain Truth (2000), Salem Falls (2001), Perfect Match (2002), Second Glance (2003), My Sister's Keeper (2004), Vanishing Acts (2005), and The Tenth Circle (2006). In 2003 she was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction.

She was born and raised —happily—on Long Island… something that she believed at first was a detriment to a girl who wanted to be a writer. "I had such an uneventful childhood that when I was taking writing classes at college, I called home and asked my mother if maybe there might have been a ...

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