Jodi Picoult, the New York Times bestselling author of Vanishing Acts, offers her most powerful chronicle yet of an American family with a story that probes the unbreakable bond between parent and child -- and the dangerous repercussions of trying to play the hero.
Trixie Stone is fourteen years old and in love for the first time. She's also the light of her father's life -- a straight-A student; a freshman in high school who is pretty and popular; a girl who's always looked up to Daniel Stone as a hero. Until, that is, her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence...and suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family -- and herself -- seems to be a lie.
For fifteen years, Daniel Stone has been an even-tempered, mild-mannered man: a stay-at-home dad to Trixie and a husband who has put his own career as a comic book artist behind that of his wife, Laura, who teaches Dante's Inferno at a local college. But years ago, he was completely different: growing up as the only white boy in an Eskimo village, he was teased mercilessly for the color of his skin. He learned to fight back: stealing, drinking, robbing, and cheating his way out of the Alaskan bush. To become part of a family, he reinvented himself, channeling his rage onto the page and burying his past completely...until now. Could the young boy who once made Trixie's face fill with light when he came to the door have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a man with a history he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back in order to protect his daughter.
The Tenth Circle looks at that delicate moment when a child learns that her parents don't know all of the answers and when being a good parent means letting go of your child. It asks whether you can reinvent yourself in the course of a lifetime or if your mistakes are carried forever -- if life is, as in any good comic book, a struggle to control good and evil, or if good and evil control you.
Some of Picoult's best storytelling distinguishes her twisting, metaphor-rich 13th novel (after Vanishing Acts) about parental vigilance gone haywire, inner demons and the emotional risks of relationships. Comic book artist Daniel Stone is like the character in his graphic novel with the same title as this book-once a violent youth and the only white boy in an Alaskan Inuit village, now a loving, stay-at-home dad in Bethel, Maine-traveling figuratively through Dante's circles of hell to save his 14-year-old teenage daughter, Trixie. After she accuses her ex-boyfriend of rape, Trixie-and Daniel, whose fierce father-love morphs to murderous rage toward her assailant-unravel in the aftermath of the allegation. At the same time, wife and mother Laura, a Dante scholar, tries to mend her and Daniel's marriage after ending her affair with one of her students. Picoult has collaborated with graphic artist Dustin Weaver to illustrate her deft, complex exploration of Daniel and his beast within, but the drawings, though well-done, distract from the powerful picture she has drawn with words. Laura and Daniel follow their runaway daughter to Alaska, at which point Picoult drives the story with the heavy-handed Dante metaphor-not the characters. Still, this story of a flawed family on the brink of destruction grips from start to finish. 20-city author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-4 of the 4 most recent reviews
1 . Bold undertaking by Jodi
Posted February 05, 2014 by smalltalk , Vancouver BCFrom the beginning I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy this read. But as I stuck with it, I couldn't put it down.Some parts were tough to read. Only because of the brutal truth that are youth today face.
2 . relatable & suspenseful
Posted November 05, 2010 by Melissa , HammondThis story really holds your attention. I felt connected with the characters and the relationship struggles they faced. I felt sympathy and empathy for each character, including those outside the family. It was really interesting that each family member dealt with their own demons privately. In the end, the suspense of finally knowing what 'really' happened kept me on the edge of my seat. All loose ends were tied together nicely.
3 . Not great for E-books
Posted March 30, 2010 by VK , HalifaxThere are comics in this book... difficult to read with an electronic reader. Should have read this one the old fashioned was... Paperback!
4 . Non stop
Posted August 11, 2009 by Review , USASoon as I started this book I couldn't put it down!! I love most of Jodi Picoults books anyway I usually read them all the way through in a day or two. It was really a wonderful book.
March 06, 2006
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Excerpt from The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Laura Stone knew exactly how to go to hell.
She could map out its geography on napkins at departmental cocktail parties; she was able to recite all of the passageways and rivers and folds by heart; she was on a first-name basis with its sinners. As one of the top Dante scholars in the country, she taught a course in this very subject and had done so every year since being tenured at Monroe College. English 364 was also listed in the course handbook as Burn Baby Burn (or: What the Devil is the Inferno?), and it was one of the most popular courses on campus in the second trimester even though Dante's epic poem the Divine Comedy wasn't funny at all. Like her husband Daniel's artwork, which was neither comic nor a book, the Inferno covered every genre of pop culture: romance, horror, mystery, crime. And like all of the best stories, it had at its center an ordinary, everyday hero who simply didn't know how he'd ever become one.
She stared at the students packing the rows in the utterly silent lecture hall. "Don't move," she instructed. "Not even a twitch." Beside her, on the podium, an egg timer ticked away one full minute. She hid a smile as she watched the undergrads, all of whom suddenly had gotten the urge to sneeze or scratch their heads or wriggle.
Of the three parts of Dante's masterpiece, the Inferno was Laura's favorite to teach?who better to think about the nature of actions and their consequences than teenagers? The story was simple: Over the course of three days?Good Friday to Easter Sunday?Dante trekked through the nine levels of hell, each filled with sinners worse than the next, until finally he came through the other side. The poem was full of ranting and weeping and demons, of fighting lovers and traitors eating the brains of their victims?in other words, graphic enough to hold the interest of today's college students? and to provide a distraction from her real life.
The egg timer buzzed, and the entire class exhaled in unison. "Well?" Laura asked. "How did that feel?"
"Endless," a student called out.
"Anyone want to guess how long I timed you for?"
There was speculation: Two minutes. Five.
"Try sixty seconds," Laura said. "Now imagine being frozen from the waist down in a lake of ice for eternity. Imagine that the slightest movement would freeze the tears on your face and the water surrounding you. God, according to Dante, was all about motion and energy, so the ultimate punishment for Lucifer is to not be able to move at all. At the very bottom of hell, there's no fire, no brimstone, just the utter inability to take action." She cast her gaze across the sea of faces. "Is Dante right? After all, this is the very bottom of the barrel of hell, and the devil's the worst of the lot. Is taking away your ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want, the very worst punishment you can imagine?"
And that, in a nutshell, was why Laura loved Dante's Inferno. Sure, it could be seen as a study of religion or politics. Certainly it was a narrative of redemption. But when you stripped it down, it was also the story of a guy in the throes of a midlife crisis, a guy who was reevaluating the choices he'd made along the way.
Not unlike Laura herself.
* * *
As Daniel Stone waited in the long queue of cars pulling up to the high school, he glanced at the stranger in the seat beside him and tried to remember when she used to be his daughter.
"Traffic's bad today," he said to Trixie, just to fill up the space between them.
Trixie didn't respond. She fiddled with the radio, running through a symphony of static and song bites before punching it off entirely. Her red hair fell like a gash over her shoulder; her hands were burrowed in the sleeves of her North Face jacket. She turned to stare out the window, lost in a thousand thoughts, not a single one of which Daniel could guess.