Number 6 Eric, Delia s fiance, also alcoholic, starts drinking while defending Daddy So, why does Delia insist on him taking the case He is most emphatically NOT the best man for the case, as he s not a member of the Arizona bar, has never defended anyone on this kind of charge or even any criminal charges that we know of, and has a background that is sure to cause his immense emotional distress in defending Daddy But Delia doesn t care about Eric, Delia cares about Delia, and it never crosses her mind to hire someone else This is because Delia lives in a novel and Jodi Picoult has a lot of points to make. Again, even though Eric himself hasn t drunk for 2 years, Jodi Picoult can t leave him alone and let him be a good guy Like Mommy, he is bad Oh, not really bad, because like Fitz and her father, Eric s whole world just revolves around Darling Delia, so that makes him OK But he is someone you have to throw away for the good of your child So Delia throws him away for Fitz I mean the good of her child Who will be scarred by the whole experience Finally, although Delia is supposed to be a great mother she never gives a thought to how her child might take this throwing over of Eric, her father, for this other dude This is because both the guys love Delia, and therefore her daughter, and she probably just won t notice the difference. Number 7, Fitz as a character has one characteristic he s hopelessly in love with Delia This is enough for both Delia and Picoult It s also the only thing he ever talks about, and losing his job is apparently so inconsequential that no one even wonders how he and Delia are going to pay the bills when they get back to New Hampshire Last I heard, search and rescue, Delia s so called career, is a volunteer gig, not a paying job No wonder she still lives with Daddy Fitz is basically just standing around, waiting for Delia to ride off into the sunset with him That is, once Eric s life is trashed This switch from love of her life Eric to best friend Fitz takes about a 2 weeks for Delia to justify Good luck to all of them. Number 8 I could forgive all the writer s workshop flowery writing if that was the only fault of this book, but it s not This book in no way stands up to the oh so beautiful writing All the freaking metaphors while the lovemaking characters who are 5 minutes from breaking up was enough to make you puke Pull a curtain over it gentle writer, and move on This is a really bad romance novel, not a poem There were no passages that made me want to stop and underline, there were only great globs of writing I wanted to stop and draw a line through Truly the worst novel I ve read this year if only because of its pretensions Throw in the rest, and it s bad on a scale I haven t encountered in a long time. Thirty one year old Delia Hopkins, aka Bethany Matthews, discovers her loving and devoted father, took her away from her alcoholic mother and her childhood in Scottsdale, AZ, created new identities for himself and his daughter, and raised her on lies in New Hampshire Delia believed her mother was killed in a car accident When her father is arrested for the crime and put on trial back in Arizona, everything Delia knows to be true about her life and her world unravels.

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Picoult weaves together plot and characterization in a landscape that is fleshed out in rich, journalistic detail, so that readers will come away with intriguing questions rather than pat answers. Vanishing Acts is a book about the nature and power of memory; about what happens when the past we have been running from catches up to us… and what happens when the memory we thought had vanished returns as a threat.

What motivated Delia to pursue a career in search-and-rescue? Does she view it differently once she knows about her past?

A recurrent theme in Vanishing Acts is self-identity. Are we products of our pasts, or do we have more control over whom we become? Eric, on the other hand, was the front man: the one who could charm adults or other kids with equal ease. How so? Is each one comfortable in his or her role, or is there a longing to be something different?

From a legal standpoint, is he guilty of a crime? How about from a moral standpoint? Does the good that Andrew has done for the town of Wexton and for the senior citizens in his care— not to mention the happy childhood he gave Delia— make up for or excuse his taking his daughter?

Why then does he agree to take on the case? I want her to be perfect. What kind of understanding do Delia and Elise come to? During the trial, Eric tells the court he is an alcoholic. What does the exchange between Eric and Delia while he is questioning her on the witness stand reveal about their relationship? Do they view each other differently after this exchange? And, conversely — are there any characters who do get a second chance — and squander it?

Because I have done both now, and when it is the other way around, there is no spell in the world that can even out the balance. Which man do you think Delia should be with, and why? Both Delia and Sophie quickly develop a close relationship with Ruthann.

When Ruthann commits suicide, Delia is there to witness it. Why does she not try to stop Ruthann? What does Delia come to realize about herself from this experience?

What do they add to the overall storyline? Right versus wrong is a dominant theme in Vanishing Acts— whether Andrew was right or wrong to kidnap Delia, whether Eric is right or wrong to hide his continued drinking from Delia, whether Delia is right or wrong not to stop Ruthann. How do the multiple perspectives in the story blur these lines and show how two people can view the same situation completely different?

Ruthann introduces Delia to the Hopi creation myth, which suggests that humans have outgrown the world four times already, and are about to inhabit a fifth. Do most people outgrow their origins? Is reinvention part of the human experience? How do each of the characters actions support or disprove this? In fact, when he reads the first few pages to her, we can recognize them as the first few pages of this book. How does this affect the story you read?

Is Fitz a reliable narrator? Much is made of the nature of memory — whether it is stored physically, whether it can be conjured at will, whether it can be organically triggered or planted.

Why or why not? Sometimes leaving is the best course of action after all. Is doing the wrong thing EVER the right thing? Are there are ever circumstances that justify breaking the law? How are each of the main characters— Delia, Fitz, Eric, Andrew, and Elise— most changed by the events that take place?

Where do you envision the characters five years from now? Vanishing Acts is richly textured and engaging.

Never more gripping is the master plotter than in this, the story of Delia Hopkins, a rescue tracker on the run from strange and terrifying mysteries that stubbornly surface from her own past. Jodi Picoult is a modern treasure.

Pulling off a story like this one is no easy task, yet it is done with supreme expertise. There are microscopic clues, like fingerprints, that stay invisible unless you know how to look for them. We live in a cloud that moves with us as we check e-mail and jog and make love and carpool. The whole time, we shed skin — 40, cells per minute, on rafts that rise on a current up our legs and under our chins. In the air or on the ground, bacteria attack, creating vapor trails.

The awful conditions that make it so hard to navigate are the same conditions that have preserved this trail. The officer from the Carroll, NH police department who is supposed to be accompanying me has fallen behind. He takes one look at the terrain Greta is bulldozing and shakes his head.

Greta, though, is even more discriminating. Fifty percent of her nose is devoted to the sense of smell; compared to only one square inch of mine. A dog can smell a thousand times better than a human. She casts around to pick up the scent again, and then starts to run. I sprint after the dog, wincing as a branch snaps back against my face and opens a cut over my left eye.

We tear through a snarl of vines and burst onto a narrow footpath that opens up into a clearing. The little girl is sitting on the wet ground, shivering, arms lashed tight over her knees.

The girl blinks up at us, slowly pecking her way through a shell of fear. Are you hurt? For a long time, all I had of my mother was a smell — a mixture of vanilla and apples could bring her back as if she were standing a foot away — and then this disappeared too.

Not even Greta can find someone without that initial clue. Someone hands me a gauze pad, which I press against the cut above my eye. Their bark is worse than their bite. From this angle, Fitz is enormous. She grabs my hand and squeezes, a pulse of understanding caught between us, before she heads back to the rescue workers who are taking care of Holly.

There were times I missed my mother desperately while I was growing up — when all the other kids at school had two parents at the Holiday Concert; when I got my period and had to sit down with my father to read the directions on the Tampax box; when I first kissed Eric and felt like I might burst out of my skin. Fitz slings his arm over my shoulders. That night Greta and I are the lead story on the evening news. Sophie is puddle on the living room floor — she still takes an occasional nap after I pick her up from kindergarten, but today I was on a search and my father had to bring her back to the senior center with him until closing time.

My father and I stand in the kitchen, getting dinner ready. Although there were any number of women who would have thrown themselves at a man like Andrew Hopkins, he only dated sporadically, and he never remarried after my mother died.

He used to say that life was all about a boy finding the perfect girl; he was lucky enough to have been handed his in a labor and delivery room. My father glances up at me. Jennica from school? She has warts. I wanted to believe my own mother had been that way. I find Sophie lying on her bed. Parenting — with and without Eric, depending on the year — has been much harder than I ever expected.

Whatever I do wrong I blame squarely on fate. He usually wins, which is no surprise to me. Case in point: my wedding. I was perfectly happy to sign a marriage certificate at the courthouse.

You look like a Portobello mushroom. My father used to call us Siamese triplets. Fitz fell asleep holding the bottle and Eric and I waited for the cursive of comets.

Did you see that one? Eric asked. And then he just kept holding on. By the time we climbed down at A. In the next two photo albums I pick up, I am older. Just then, my father comes into the room. She is on the cusp of smiling, and you cannot look at it without wondering who made her happy just then, and how. My father looks down at the ground, and shakes his head a little. Come on, then. From the closet, he takes down a tin with a Pepsi-Cola logo stamped onto the front. He dumps the contents onto the covers between Eric and me — dozens of photographs of my mother, draped in peasant skirts and gauze blouses, her black hair hanging down her back like a river.

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Jodi Picoult

Picoult weaves together plot and characterization in a landscape that is fleshed out in rich, journalistic detail, so that readers will come away with intriguing questions rather than pat answers. Vanishing Acts is a book about the nature and power of memory; about what happens when the past we have been running from catches up to us… and what happens when the memory we thought had vanished returns as a threat. What motivated Delia to pursue a career in search-and-rescue? Does she view it differently once she knows about her past?


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Oct 29, Teri Zipf rated it did not like it This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Never reading Jodi Picoult again. Well good god, hair grows back. They can give you new, bigger boobs. But no one can restore you to your family and friends. If this woman had had a chance to think this over, if someone had bothered to go to the doctor with her and see what her options are, she might have changed her mind.


Vanishing Acts




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