Plain Truth

Posted April 5, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 6 Comments

This cover sold me, with the grass and the simple white dress.

Plain Truth
by Jodi Picoult
Washington Square Press
Purchased in paperback
[#26 in my 75 book challenge]

Ooooohhh, Picoult, you sure have a way of showing me both sides of a complicated issue. You’ve made me sympathetic to murder-suicide, anti-gay ex-husbands, and kids who refuse to donate a kidney to their sisters. And now you’ve made me sympathetic to neonaticide.


In this novel, a newborn baby is found dead in an Amish barn, and Katie Fisher is on trial for the murder. Big-city lawyer Ellie Hathaway ends up not just representing Katie in court, but also living in Amish country as her client’s court-appointed guardian prior to the trial. Like all Picoult novels, the story grows more and more complicated as we find out more about Katie’s life. We are given one twist and turn at a time, even throughout the trial in the last 1/3 of the book, and are left wondering exactly what happened until the last few pages when the truth comes out and the verdict is given.

Though I like Picoult’s books and read them like 400+ page candy, I found myself not liking either Ellie or Katie in this story. That fact didn’t hurt my overall enjoyment too much, but it was problematic none-the-less. I didn’t find myself feeling sympathetic toward the commitment-phobic, workaholic lawyer (ohmygoodness, will a few month living the simple life cure her?!) and I didn’t feel any sympathy toward Katie. She’s supposed to be sort of mature and naive at the same time, but I felt like I didn’t trust her from page one. And that trust didn’t even change at the end of the book.

Why do characters always have to hold on to secrets that they KNOW will be important (like who the baby daddy is) and that they know will be found out? And why on earth do they seem surprised that other characters in the story want to know these things? You are on trial for murder, honey. The baby daddy IS IMPORTANT. Characterization aside, though, it was a good page-turner of a book.

FINAL GRADE:   B   I liked it, in a quiet way. The ending wasn’t quite satisfying for me, which is why it’s knocked down from an A to a B. There are a few flaws, but overall it was what I was expecting in a Picoult book — legal drama with a lot of depth and a good twist. I’ve seen many people list this as one of their favorite Picoult books. I can see why, but I’m still sticking with The Pact as my #1.

Other Picoult books I’ve read:

Handle With Care

Sing You Home

The Pact

My Sister’s Keeper

Nineteen Minutes

Have you read any Picoult novels? Why or why not? Which is your favorite?

(Also, did you know Picoult’s name is pronounced Pec-o? I learned that while researching this novel. Fun fact.)


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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6 responses to “Plain Truth

  1. Nineteen Minutes is the ONLY Picoult I’ve read. I LOVED it, but others have seemed to follow a “formula”…good thing, turns to bad thing, turns to good thing again. ?? If I were to read another Picoult – which would you suggest???

  2. I’ve read a few, I loved My Sisters Keeper and I did like the twist at the end of the witches oen but then i read the one about the ghosts, the we need to talk about kevin style one, and this one and they are so formulaic that I couldn’t read another. I can’t even remember the titles and they all blur into one poorly written novel. An easy read and that’s about it. c-

  3. Hmmm…I’ve never read any Picoult, but your description of her ability to make you think about situations from an alternative angle has me extremely attracted. I love books that open you up to a new way of thinking. I can totally see how non-identifiable/sympathetic characters can make a book tough, but I think that your decent grade of it regardless shows that it’s well done. Thanks for the review!

    • I read Plain Truth in the 9th grade, and from that moment, I was obsessed with Picoult AND the lifestyle of the Amish. (I even went through a phase when I wanted to be live with an Amish family for a few months!) I have read more than just a few of her novels: Keeping Faith, Picture Perfect, The Pact and Salem Falls are the ones that come to mind first, and they were definitely favorites. However, I finally gave up reading Picoult novels because I found that even her great twists were predictable after the first few reads. (Thanks for reminding me about Plain Truth! What a great book!)

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