Cannonball Read IV #57
I’d heard lots of good things about William Landay’s Defending Jacob, so I was stoked when it was finally available for me to check out from the library. I raced through it – nothing like a good thriller to grab your attention.
Defending Jacob is the story of Andy Barber, assistant district attorney in a small town, and his son Jacob, accused of murdering a classmate. Andy is shocked when it’s Jacob who’s charged with the murder and as a father, believes whole-heartedly in his son’s innocence. As the trial proceeds, much about Jacob comes to light that Andy never knew, and he must deal with these new truths as well as work to save his breaking marriage.
It’s been a while since I read this book, but there are three things I remember clearly about it. First, I hated the way some of the chapters were set up as transcripts of an interview. Why not just make it a normal narrative like the rest of the book? It was too gimmicky for me when the rest of the narrative drew me in.
Second, I really liked these characters, especially Andy. I’m not a parent, but if something happened and Charisse (my sister) were in this situation, my initial instinct would be to believe her and fight for justice for her, too. Landay did a great job of portraying the wide array of very intense emotions that a parent would go through if this were the situation, and likewise, he also did a good job of presenting the others players as well: other adults, students, and law enforcement officials.
Third, and here’s the place where I have to tread carefully so as not to be a spoiler: OH MY GOSH THE ENDING. I am not a fan most of the time of sneaky, twisty endings because they stress me out. But after Jacob’s trial is over (and it’s up to you to see what the outcome is), there is an event so intense that I was like, “DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN?”
It wasn’t a perfect novel, and it was one that I wasn’t sorry to see end. But I was happy enough to give it four stars on Goodreads, so that, in my approximation, is a worthy read indeed.