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Friday, December 16, 2011

Vanishing Acts: A Novel (Paperback) tagged "bestsellers" 10 times

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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Another good, solid read from Jodi Picoult, December 25, 2005 This review is from: Vanishing Acts: A Novel (Paperback) I have read many of Ms. Picoult's novels and I always find them to be both provocative and enjoyable. She is not afraid to tackle big issues that are surrounded by shades of gray, and her characters always live in the everyday but wrestle with life-shattering challenges.

VANISHING ACTS has a similar format to all of the other novels of hers that I've read, with a story that resolves itself as the characters debate a moral issue in a courtroom. But this story is strong and works well laid over Ms. Picoult's standard structure.

Delia Hopkins, the main character who's in her early 30's, learns that the beloved father who has raised her actually kidnapped her as a young girl. She was taken away from her mother in Arizona, given a new identity, told that her mother was dead, and then grew up with no memories of any of her life before they moved to New Hampshire. The secret comes out, and Delia now must come to terms with what her father has done and with the still-living mother she never knew. Delia is a mother herself, now, and she spends much of the novel reconciling her own hurt and anger over being taken away with her perspective as a mother who'd do anything to protect her child. Toss in Delia's fiance (a lawyer) and her male best friend (a reporter) who both have strong interests in the legal case, and you have the main love triangle that drives the story.

This was a fast-paced, compelling read. There were a few sections that I thought slowed things down (most of the story of the father in prison) but Ms. Picoult also managed to weave in a nice element of Native American mythology through the Arizona setting.

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71 of 81 people found the following review helpful: 3.0 out of 5 stars "Recollections are in the eyes of the beholder.", March 29, 2005 Cordelia Hopkins makes a living finding lost people. She and her beautiful bloodhound, Greta, have a terrific track record for leading successful search-and-rescue missions. They're very good at what they do. As "Vanishing Acts" progresses, it becomes obvious that Delia has had an unusually intense interest in loss, of both people and memory, stemming from her third year of life.

Raised by her warm and loving father, Andrew, Delia had as happy a childhood as anyone could wish for. Her dad, a widower, was always right there for her. She could talk to him about anything...and she still can, she believes. Sometimes, she would think about what it would be like to have a mother and fantasize about meeting her in heaven. Her mom died in a car crash when she was a small child. On the other hand, it seems to Cordelia that she and her father have lived forever in the same cozy house in rural New Hampshire, just the two of them. He has run a local senior center there for as long as she can remember, and has always been active in community affairs. Although she has vague memories of a woman who smelled of vanilla and apples, Delia remembers almost nothing of her life prior to Wexton, NH.

Her two next door neighbors are her two best friends and have been for most of her thirty-two years. She grew up with both of them. Eric Talcott, her fiance, is the father of her pre-school daughter, Sophie. They are in the process of planning their wedding. Fitzwilliam MacMurray, (Fitz), formed the other part of their triumvirate from the time they were little kids. They were a "fungible" trio, as Fitz once put it. In high school, when Eric and Delia fell in love, the three-way friendship continued and still does, years later. Eric is now a lawyer, and Fitz a journalist.

As Sophie grows from a toddler to little girl, Delia begins to remember more about her own life at her daughter's age. Images, sounds, the feel of the sun on her head, bring back fragmented memories from another time - people, voices and a place she just cannot identify. Then one evening a policeman knocks on the door with a warrant for her father's arrest, and her life and world are turned upside down.

"Vanishing Act" is written in the first person by each of five main characters: Delia, Andrew, Eric, Fitz, and Elise. Each point of view provides part of the puzzle that is the history of the Hopkins' family. I am a big fan of the author's and have never disliked any of her novels. There are some books by Jodi Picoult which I love, and others I would prefer not to read twice. "Vanishing Acts" is in the latter category, and is probably the book I like least by Ms. Picoult. The narrative feels forced, even erratic at times, and disturbs the natural flow which usually marks the author's work. She has added unwarranted drama, which fits neither the storyline nor the characters. There are scenes from prison life that, although fascinating, are tremendously distracting and excessively violent - to no purpose. Certain characters, dialogue and scenarios are just out of place and make an otherwise believable plot incredible. Unnecessary touches, like change of font and the use of boldface type to distinguish between characters' stories and chapters, are also awkward. It is as if the author could not count on the strength of her plot and storytelling ability to sustain the novel, and needed to go for the artsy effect to provide a worthy result.

On the other hand, there are people who surface here, like the Native American woman, Ruthann, who is a jewel of a character - and a prime example of what Jodi Picoult fans look for when we purchase her novels without a second's thought. I am glad I read the book. I would have been sorry to miss it. However, read parts of it in a bookstore before you decide to make a purchase. Otherwise, wait for it to come out in paperback or go to the library.
JANA

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful: 2.0 out of 5 stars This book is vanished to Goodwill, February 23, 2006 This is just an opinion, not a review. This book got on my nerves BIG TIME. First of all, Delia was just a whiny twit. I did not like her at all. And then all the sappy, goofy lines?? I know this is not a good example, as it would be better understood in the context of the chapter, but this one bugged me:

I haven't blamed her for not loving me. But here's where Sophie is wrong: It's not because I don't want to hurt Delia's feelings.

(new paragraph...big news...roll drums!) It's because when she is bruised, I'm the one who aches.

Wah, wah, wha...let me play my violin. Who cares? I don't get Delia at ALL -- or why these two guys are so enamored with her.

The whole Ruthann/Hopi village thing was a waste of time. I skipped it - and didn't miss a beat with the rest of the story. Boring, boring, boring. Oh, and Crazy Ol' Ruthann and her "humorous barbies"?? Whatever. I got that email over 6 years ago. Why would the author pass off an old recycled joke like that?? (http://www.joke-archives.com/oddsends/barbieat40.html)

I did like Andrew's character, though, and do agree he did the right thing.

To be fair, I did read Jodi P's 'Plain Truth' and it was a good read. I guess I won't give up on her yet and try 'Sister's Keeper', which a few people on these reviews have recommended.

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