One of my favourite authors of the past five years is undoubtedly Jodi Picoult. I discovered her by accident whilst on holiday in Greece in 2005, when I had run out of things to read, and came across Picoult’s Plain Truth. The way in which Picoult takes a strongly controversial issue, creating not just a law suit around it, but warmly integrating a whole family dynamic and the causes and effects of the issue upon the family and their community, never ceases to interest me. A sprinkling of a love story within the narrative also adds a further intriguing layer to the Picoult novel. However, the one area that seems to be a constant disappointment in these otherwise faultless books, is in the endings. On numerous occasions, the endings leave a lot to be desired, either in the story finishing far too early, where seemingly loose ends from the text have not been tied up, or else the ending is far too abrupt and doesn’t have the same intense impact as the rest of the novel. In short, Picoult fails to wrap up the otherwise brilliant storylines that she creates.
Admittedly, the endings to the first two Picoult novels that I read; Plain Truth and Perfect match, seemed to conclude everything satisfactorily, where all loose ends were tied and harmony restored. It was only once I developed a love for these books, that I found the endings left more and more to be desired.
Take one of Picoult’s most recent novels for example, House Rules. Centred around the life of autistic child Jacob, who suffers with Asperger’s syndrome, a law suit develops when it becomes suspected that Jacob may have murdered his carer and friend Jess, who has been helping him deal with his disability. Whilst Picoult deals with this subject very tenderly and emotively, the ending ultimately has to leave everything to the imagination. The conclusion towards which the plot is heading has arguably been hinted at throughout the narrative thread, but the end point leaves many questions unanswered. Ultimately, the novel doesn’t end at the end, but seems to finish somewhere three quarters through the story of Jacob and the murder trial, leaving a segment of the story in limbo.
I would hope that this is simply a bad habit that Jodi Picoult has gotten into, where she all too strictly follows the classic rule of creative writing; showing, not telling. However, it would be nice if she could return to her former glory of novels such as Plain Truth, or Perfect Match, where the conclusion of the plot is perfectly mapped out on the page, and leaves the reader with a complete feeling of satisfaction.