three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
22-May-June-2006
By: 
Jodi Picoult
user_rating: 
0

A-TheTenthCircleHigh school freshman Trixie Stone is pretty, popular, smart—and dating Jason Underhill, her Maine high school’s star hockey player. When he breaks up with her, she starts engaging in self-destructive behavior and vows to do anything to get him back—including playing sex games at a wild party. The fun and games end when Trixie accuses Jason of date rape. As her comic-book artist father Daniel, whose allegorical illustrations of the circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno follow Trixie’s own descent into hell, deals with his wife’s infidelity, he must rescue her daughter—and avenge her rape.
Atria. 387 pages. $26. ISBN: 0743496701

Rocky Mountain News 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Picoult excels at seamlessly switching points of view: from Trixie’s perspective as a high school freshman to her father’s perspective to her mother’s. None of the characters are innocent. … The Tenth Circle is impressive on many levels." Ashley Simpson Shires

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The Tenth Circle is absolutely the thought-provoking and topical novel readers have come to expect. … Picoult is brutally convincing in her portrayal of the parental reaction to their child’s pain." Robin Vidimos

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"This is a family in full collapse, aided by too much deception and assumed familiarity; Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper) paints those shades deftly, never dipping her brush into the overwrought. … This book lands, as Picoult might say, like a fat black crow on your chest." Whitney Pastorek

Minneapolis Star Tribune 3 of 5 Stars
"In a plot with as many turns as this one, the list of improbabilities stacks up fast. … All told, The Tenth Circle has too much ornamentation, but at its heart lies a cautionary tale about the risks of irresponsible sexual behavior." Ellen Emry Heltzel

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"If Picoult had retained this tight focus on Trixie’s experience, The Tenth Circle might have had the power of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones or Rosellen Brown’s Before And After. Instead, the novel veers off into an increasingly implausible chain of events." Elizabeth Hand

Critical Summary

Jodi Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper, 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2004) masterfully portrays the morally ambiguous situations that consume families and draw them together—or tear them apart. Her 13th novel, which deals with date rape, self-deception, and parental responsibility, is not for the timid. Despite its powerful themes, the novel generated mixed reviews. Critics disagreed about the value of Daniel’s illustrations (drawn by Dustin Weaver, with a secret message in them), though Daniel—who escaped a shady past in Alaska—becomes the hero he depicts in his art. Other critics thought some subplots improbable, written for the big screen. But if some parts don’t quite ring true, Picoult’s description of the teenage world is "unflinching, unjudgemental, utterly chilling" (Washington Post).