Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending JacobThe main character’s situation filled me with dread. I cannot fathom how it might feel to have a child of your own accused of murder. I don’t know if I could have been as steadfast in my defense of my child as Andy Barber, or if I would have handled it more like his wife. My dreadful fascination with this kept me turning the pages. I had to know the truth! What really happened?

While it was a page-turner, it was also frustrating at times with sudden transitions between different periods of time and different voices. It was written as Andy Barber’s memoir, so all events are in the past; however, it consists of one thread telling the tale from start to finish juxtaposed with Andy’s testimony later on. The voice changes from an in-the-moment reaction to a considered and rehearsed telling before the grand jury to the reflective voice of the author. It’s not poorly done, but it feels like the literary version of driving over a dirt road filled with pot holes and stones. The transitions can be jarring.

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