March Book Club Book Review: Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob Book Review

Photo Credit: Amazon

Every month, I gather with a group of ladies for book club. This monthly gathering is one of the highlights in my life. When I was growing up, English class was always my favorite subject. I loved literature and I loved discussing all of the elements in a good story. Identifying literary devices was my jam. That’s probably why I went on to study literature, history and philosophy in college.

Anyway, book club is one of my favorite activities. Although, if I’m being honest, we spend a great deal of time talking about life and catching up on gossip and news instead of the book, but we have fun and we still manage to talk about the book at least a little bit. We also take a picture of our meeting each month with the book we read. This is from a few months ago:

Book Club

Book club is exciting because it causes me to read books I might not otherwise hear about or choose for myself. Each month, a different person gets to choose the book, and we have a rotation that we work through so that every one gets a chance to choose. The book featured in the picture above is a book I’ve never heard of before book club, and it was even written by an Oklahoma author and set in Oklahoma City!  It was a good read, I’d recommend checking it out if you’re an Okie (or even if you’re not!).

Tonight my monthly book club will meet to discuss our March book: Defending Jacob by William Landay. I actually finished the book nearly a month ago, so I have been so anxious for this meeting because, I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT. The struggle has been real, y’all.

So, here’s a little bit about the plot: A successful and respected Assistant District Attorney, Andy Barber, finds himself in the precarious position of having to defend his teenage son, Jacob, against a murder charge. The trial tests the devotion of the parents to their son’s innocence, and it also explores the differences between a father and mother’s relationships to their son. Also, there is an interesting exploration of the role of nature vs. nurture in human behavior. Add to that marital strain and a secret past, and you’ve got a compelling narrative that keeps you turning the page.

What I liked about the book:

  • Maybe it’s the former law student in me, but I love police procedurals, so I really liked how the author wove the trial transcript into the story’s narrative.
  • The story was engaging, I found myself questioning Jacob’s innocence as well as identifying with Andy’s blind devotion to his son. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I also sympathized with the mother’s dilemma. This broad range of emotions reveals good writing: the author was able to make me identify with all three experiences in a real way.
  • There’s a shocking twist – I like books that keep you guessing, especially when they’re mysteries/crime novels.
  • I appreciated the psychological element to the story. The issues of free will, determinism and self-fulfilling prophecy all factor into the story’s development.

What I didn’t like about the book:

  • This is a bit of a spoiler, but I like a happy ending, and this book doesn’t give you one. I know it’s unrealistic to expect happy endings, because they are rare in real life, but call me a cheesy sap, I like when the resolution is positive for all involved.
  • The book doesn’t resolve the questions it raises about the role of nature vs. nurture in the development of human behavior. I would have appreciated a more thorough exploration of this psychological issue in a way that provides some tangible resolution. That’s probably asking too much, but there it is.

As you can tell, I have lots of thoughts about Defending Jacob, so I’m ready for book club tonight! Have you read any good stories lately? I’m always looking for suggestions!

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