What does it mean to be a good mother? For career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost, the question inspires pangs of guilt familiar to all parents torn by the demands of home and office. But whereas most parents lie awake at night vividly conjuring the worst scenarios that could befall their children in their absence, Nina lives the reality of such crises -- and it's her job to do something about them. Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters -- and in the course of her everyday work, she has endured the frustration of seeing too many criminals slip through the system and walk free.
A man as methodical and careful as his wife is instinctive and mercurial, Caleb Frost is a stonemason who glories in his ability to construct with his own hands the physical barriers that will keep out the unwanted -- and protect all that is precious within. But even the strongest walls cannot guard Nina and Caleb from the shattering discovery that their own beloved son has been sexually abused.
Five-year-old Nathaniel is the only one who knows the identity of his assailant -- but in the initial fallout of his trauma, he's been left mute, unable to speak a single word. Knowing the futility of trusting the courts to exact justice for Nathaniel, and ripped apart by a maddening sense of helplessness, Nina finds herself in a grip of rage she can't deny -- no matter the consequence, whatever the sacrifice. What does it take to be a good mother? How far can a person go...and still live with herself? What happens if one's absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down?
Forging new ground in her unique territory of morally complex suspense fiction, bestselling author Jodi Picoult delivers her most soulful and intimate novel to date -- and portrays what happens to a family when a wheel comes off, when the domestic unit begins to careen and veer, when the vestments of ordinary life are forfeited to unspeakable horrors. From its provocative opening to the astonishing and revelatory finale, Perfect Match enters the raw and private realm of a parent's heart, and ultimately questions our assumptions about family, security, and love.
One plot element"a case of child molestation involving a Catholic priest"in Picoult's latest novel (after Salem Falls) now seems eerily prescient, but that's only part of the saga she weaves, which is primarily an indictment of the current criminal justice system. Nina Frost, an assistant district attorney in Maine, knows how hard it is to obtain a conviction for a sex crime when the victim is a juvenile, so when her five-year-old son, Nathaniel, identifies their priest as being the man who raped him, Nina's grievances with the system become personal. Frustrated by the threat of an unsatisfactory legal outcome, she takes the law into her own hands, killing the priest in open court. Awaiting her own trial, a startling fact emerges from the DNA: the priest was innocent. Will Nina be able to prove to a jury that her actions were justified, particularly since she killed the wrong man Picoult adeptly renders Nina's feelings"impotence, guilt, the drive for retribution"but Nina is herself an unsympathetic heroine, from her initial accusation of her husband to her arrogant vigilante stance, which does little to persuade the reader that an act of premeditation should be recast as maternal instinct. While the argument that the current system is flawed is solid, the only alternative offered is an iffy form of frontier justice that many readers may find unpalatable. (May) Forecast: The cover, a cozy-looking New England home surrounded by flowers at sunset, won't give browsers any hint of what's inside, but the ripped-from-the-headlines plot should generate sufficient buzz to overcome that. Major ad/promo; 11-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Perfect Match Review
Posted June 17, 2011 by Tori , AlgonaI loved this book...it's very typical Jodi Picoult, but if you like her style of writing you will love it. Once I started I couldn't put it down. The plot and characters are so interesting and make you really think about what you would do in a similar situation. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of Jodi Picoult's books and this one is no different! I loved it from begining to end and would highly reccomond it!
2 . Couldn't put it down
Posted February 05, 2010 by Julie , New YorkThis book tackles a serious topic. What would you do if your child was sexually brutalized by someone they trusted and you as a mother could do nothing to stop it? Nina Frost is a judge and a mom. When she find out that her son has been abused she stops at nothing to bring his assailant to justice. But did they get the right man?
May 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
I have always been best at closings.
Without any significant forethought, I can walk into a courtroom, face a jury, and deliver a speech that leaves them burning for justice. Loose ends drive me crazy; I have to tidy things up to the point where I can put them behind me and move on to the next case. My boss tells anyone who'll listen that he prefers to hire prosecutors who were waiters and waitresses in former lives -- that is, used to juggling a load. But I worked in the gift-wrapping department of Filene's to put myself through law school, and it shows.
This morning, I've got a closing on a rape trial and a competency hearing. In the afternoon, I have to meet with a DNA scientist about a bloodstain inside a wrecked car, which revealed brain matter belonging to neither the drunk driver accused of negligent homicide nor the female passenger who was killed. All of this is running through my mind when Caleb sticks his head into the bathroom. The reflection of his face rises like a moon in the mirror. "How's Nathaniel?"
I turn off the water and wrap a towel around myself. "Sleeping," I say.
Caleb's been out in his shed, loading his truck. He does stonework -- brick paths, fireplaces, granite steps, stone walls. He smells of winter, a scent that comes to Maine at the same time local apples come to harvest. His flannel shirt is streaked with the dust that coats bags of concrete. "How is his fever?" Caleb asks, washing his hands in the sink.
"He's fine," I answer, although I haven't checked on my son; haven't even seen him yet this morning.
I am hoping that if I wish hard enough, this will be true. Nathaniel wasn't really that sick last night, and he wasn't running a temperature above 99 degrees. He didn't seem himself, but that alone wouldn't keep me from sending him to school -- especially on a day when I'm due in court. Every working mother has been caught between this Scylla and Charybdis. I can't give a hundred percent at home because of my work; I can't give a hundred percent at work because of my home; and I live in fear of the moments, like these, when the two collide.
"I'd stay home, but I can't miss this meeting. Fred's got the clients coming to review the plans, and we're all supposed to put in a good showing." Caleb looks at his watch and groans. "In fact, I was late ten minutes ago." His day starts early and ends early, like most subcontractors. It means that I bear the brunt of getting Nathaniel to school, while Caleb is in charge of the pickup. He moves around me, gathering his wallet and his baseball cap. "You won't send him to school if he's sick..."
"Of course not," I say, but heat creeps beneath the neck of my blouse. Two Tylenol will buy me time; I could be finished with the rape case before getting a call from Miss Lydia to come get my son. I think this, and in the next second, hate myself for it.
"Nina." Caleb puts his big hands on my shoulders. I fell in love with Caleb because of those hands, which can touch me as if I am a soap bubble certain to burst, yet are powerful enough to hold me together when I am in danger of falling to pieces.
I slide my own hands up to cover Caleb's. "He'll be fine," I insist, the power of positive thinking. I give him my prosecutor's smile, crafted to convince. "We'll be fine."