Last night I went to book club ... it's run through the local library, but we meet at a local restaurant. I don't always make it out to book club, but when I do like it.
Last night, I still had a headache but I went anyway and I think it was good for me. (then I came home and took the medicine that actually helped the headache! yay!)
This month we read the book Defending Jacob by William Landay.
The book is a courtroom drama about a 14yo boy (Jacob) who was charged with murdering a classmate. His father (Andy), the former prosecutor, is telling the story.
The book is part transcript of a grand jury trial and part Andy's memories. Right away I realized that this was not the Grand Jury for Jacob, but another one. However, you don't find out for what until the very end.
When the murdered boy (Ben) is first found, despite some worries from others about a conflict of interest, he stays on the case. Once charges are brought against Jacob, he is removed from the case and put on leave. (This comes up in the book several times).
Andy and Laurie are besides themselves as they have to watch their son go through this. Andy is convinced of his innocent. Laurie seems to want to believe in his innocence, but unsure. During all of this Andy admits he's been keeping a terrible secret from everyone - his father, who he always said he didn't know - was in jail for murder. And his father before him. And his father before him. 3 generations of men all with a tendency to violence and murder.
And the possibility of a murder gene is introduced and plays into the case, not as heavily as they could have, but more heavily than Andy wanted it to.
Alright ... now I'm about to talk some SPOILERS. So please stop reading if you don't want to know more about the book than what I've already said!
The case against Jacob isn't airtight. There is another character - Patz who maybe could have done it. As I read it I thought the author's intention was to let us know that Jacob did do it. Somehow, after a particularly bad day in court, Patz commits suicide and leaves a confession note. The charges against Jacob are dropped. After a small cool down period, his family take a trip to Jamaica, and everything seems to be fine. Until the girl Jacob was hanging out with turns up dead. I feel like this was glossed over in the book and it was pretty obviously (I thought anyway) ripped from the headlines of the Natalee Holloway case.
Jacob is never charged with this however, and the family comes home. The father - Andy is convinced Jacob is innocent and is once again just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And then the book ended in a way that just tore my heart out. (And I don't usually do spoilers but I need to talk this one out). The book ends with the revelation that Laurie (the mother) has purposefully crashed her car, killing Jacob and barely staying alive herself. Like, in the last few pages. This is what the grand jury was about - should Laurie be charged with murder.
My heart stopped beating for a moment. On one hand I get it. I think Laurie felt guilty, felt her son was guilty and wondered how many more people he will hurt, harm, or kill.
But. But. I look at my kids and I think how could I ever hurt them? Or harm them? Or, my goodness, kill them. I still struggle to wrap my mind around it. I just. I can't.
On the other hand, I can't believe the father's complete denial that his son ever did anything wrong at all. I love my kids, but I also know they aren't perfect (neither am I frankly, I never expect perfection for them). They have made mistakes and we deal with it. I hope I never have to deal with them murdering someone, but what parent thinks that that might ever happen? Probably not many.
I finished the book Wednesday and I still have all these questions swirling. Did Jacob really kill Ben? Or Hope (the girl from vacation)? How do murder genes play into it? What's the deal with Patz? The book touches on bullying, and yet, it doesn't. I couldn't tell - teasing I think happened. But did bullying happen? Was Jacob pushed to this or not? And the ending? Crazy.
The writing was good, the book however irked me, too many gray areas, too much unknown. I didn't like it. Of course, I'm probably clouded by the ending to be honest. I just don't understand it.
But alas, I'm glad I read it. I'm glad I went to book group. Next month's book is The Glass Castle. I have high hopes for this one!