Thursday, February 19, 2015

Julie's Review: Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay
Series: None
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 448
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A thoughtful look at how far a parent will go to believe in and protect their child
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life: his wife, Laurie, and their teenage son, Jacob. Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son — shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob. Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family. It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense. How far would you go?
Review: Defending Jacob is a novel that received a lot of buzz when it was released and still continues to be discussed among readers. After reading it, I definitely see why it has gotten all that buzz. How would you react if your child has been accused of murder? Would you ever doubt your child? To what extent would you defend their innocence? These are the questions facing Andy Barber and his wife, Laurie. When their 14 year old son, Jacob, is accused and on trial for the murder of a fellow student, Ben Rifkin, Andy decides that no matter what his son is innocent.

As the novel goes on there are things that are revealed about Jacob that would make anyone take pause and question his innocence. It would at least make you wonder what else he might be hiding. As with any teenager, they have their secrets, but are Jacob's more sinister than other teens?

What Mr. Landay does extremely well is show the deterioration of a family.  It doesn't happen immediately but slowly over the course of the year between the arrest and the trial. Each of the family members changes in their own way but is Laurie who changes the most. Someone who used to believe in talking everything out becomes withdrawn and depressed. It's not only emotionally and mentally but her physical appearance changes.

Andy changes as well but his changes are much more subtle. He gains weight and becomes jaded. His faith in his son never wavers, ever. At times I found this admirable and other times, I wanted him to open his eyes and perhaps see his son as others did. Although as he states, all parents have a blind spot when it comes to their kids.

While I thought the book lagged in the middle, it picked up at the end. I can't say that I saw the ending coming but I definitely thought something was up based on how Mr. Landay chose to tell the story. Andy was a reliable narrator but there was definitely something that he wasn't telling us and it wasn't revealed until the end. I'm still thinking about the ending.

I wouldn't say that Defending Jacob blew me out of the water but it definitely gave me food for thought about putting myself in Andy and Laurie's shoes. If you are willing to stick with it through the slogging middle, then the book won't disappoint you.



techeditor February 19, 2015 at 3:24 PM  

I read this, too. I tried at that time to review it but had a hard time because I wasn't sure how I could without spoiling the story. I think a reader needs to have the story unfold just as the author writes it. I did say that I added it to my list of favorite books.

Linda Boa March 17, 2015 at 10:22 PM  

I've got this on my Kindle, and I'm looking forward to reading it - once I get through my massive TBR list!

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