Friday, April 29, 2011

Read Alike: Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is known for taking complex issues and sympathetic characters and combining them in emotional, suspenseful, page-turning novels. Her books consistently feature on the best-seller lists, and Cameron Diaz starred in the film adaption of My Sister's Keeper. Despite knowing from an early age that she wanted to write novels, Ms. Picoult made the careful decision to seek employment elsewhere, at least until her writing career took off. Over the years she has worked as an eighth grade English teacher, a copy-writer, and the author of a series of Wonder Woman comics. The main character of her most recent novel, Sing you Home, is a music therapist who wrestles with infertility, divorce, and the rights of same-sex couples. Fans may enjoy the audio book release, which adds an additional dimension of music with lyrics composed by Ms. Picoult. The music is also available for streaming on her publisher's website. You can read more about Jodi Picoult, her career, and her thoughts on some of the difficult issues raised by her novels on her website.

Other authors and books that may appeal to Jodi Picoult's readers:

Christopher A. Bohjalian writes books where his sympathetic characters face complex challenges. Some of his novels have a historical setting or include more elements of a mystery novel. Fans of Jodi Picoult should try Midwives, an Oprah book club selection, or Trans-Sister Radio, which covers questions of sexuality, gender, love, and family.

Anita Shreve's novels focus on the emotional landscapes of her characters as they face challenges in their relationships both from unexpected disasters and the deeper questions of trust and communication. Newlyweds living in Kenya, Geraldine and Patrick of A Change in Altitude struggle to overcome a devastating mountain climbing accident.

Sue Miller also tackles the issues that trouble modern families and the varied emotional reactions of individuals. The Lake Shore Limited is a novel about grief, and how different characters use a play about a terrorist attack to process their own losses in a post-9/11 world.

Ann Hood is the author of fiction, short fiction, and autobiography. Her writing deals honestly with the complex emotions inspired by difficult events, often drawing inspiration from the tragedies of her own life. Her latest publication, The Red Thread, is an engaging exploration of international adoptions told from several perspectives.

Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean was Oprah's first book club selection, and launched her career as a novelist. Ms. Mitchard is known for her emotional family dramas filled with sympathetic characters. Her most recent novel for adults, No Time to Wave Goodbye, is a sequel to The Deep End of the Ocean.

Luanne Rice also writes books about women who struggle with tragedy and relationships that range from bittersweet to heartwarming, but she rarely tackles larger controversial issues like Ms. Picoult often does. The Silver Boat, which was release just this month, is the story of three sisters haunted by their father's mysterious disappearance and their lyrically described family home on Martha's Vineyard.

Anna Quindlen's reflective novels are built around her human characters and their complicated family relationships and how modern ethical questions challenge those relationships. Last year's novel, Every Last One, is the story of an unremarkable and happy family who find they are not immune to life's tragedies.

Elizabeth Berg tackles difficult yet universal challenges such as death and unrequited love in her character-driven novels. The Last Time I Saw You explores the characters' dread and worry over their imminent 40th high school reunion with humor and compassion.

Alice Hoffman's character-driven novels feature ordinary people who face extraordinary circumstances. Unlike Ms. Picoult, her novels, like The Red Garden, incorporate elements of magic realism. You can read more about The Red Garden in Amy's staff review.

You may also enjoy checking out the Skokie Public Library's list of Jodi Picoult read alikes organized by her different novels. Remember that the links on their list will take you to the Skokie Public Library's catalog, and not our own!

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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