The Pact

A Love Story

By Jodi Picoult
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780688170523, 400pp.)

Publication Date: May 1999

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Description
Friendship, loyalty, lifelong love -- and teenage suicide. A riveting, timely, and terrifying novel from an acclaimed writer who skillfully intertwines the intimate perceptions of Anne Tyler with the dramatic tension of John Grisham

The Golds and the Hartes, neighbors for eighteen years, have always been inseparable. So have their children-and it's no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily's friendship blossoms into something more. But the bonds of family, friendship, and passion-which had seemed so indestructible -- suddenly threaten to unravel in the wake of unexpected tragedy.

When midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the truth. Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There's a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris pilfered from his father's cabinet-a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris describes.

This extraordinary, heart-rending novel asks questions that every parent faces: How much do we know about our children? Our friends?
What if . . .? As its chapters unfold, alternating between an idyllic past and an unthinkable present, "The Pact" paints an indelible portrait of families in anguish . . . and creates an astonishingly suspenseful courtroom drama, as Chris finds himself on trial for murder.

It's rare to find a writer who combines Alice Hoffman's gift for evoking everyday life in pellucid prose with a remarkable ability to create a legal page-turner that will keep you up all night reading, but this is such a book. "The Pact" rings true: wonderfully observed, truly moving, frightening, and utterly impossible to put down.

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