April 14, 2008

Vanishing Acts

I loved the last Jodi Picoult book I read, Keeping Faith, so I definitely wanted to read more of her stuff.

This one is about a youngish mother who works with a bloodhound rescuing missing persons, usually children who have been kidnapped or run away. Ironically, she discovers that she herself was kidnapped as a little girl by her father, who told her her mother was dead. Torn between the father she loved and the mother she'd always wanted to know, she is forced to testify at her father's trial and relive memories she didn't know she had.

Sounded good, but it was also very cheesy. It read like a Lifetime movie, full of melodrama and overreactions and stereotypes. Worst of all to me were two factual errors I found.

1. A child that was born in 1968 was identified on her birth certificate as "African-American." That term was not in use until Jesse Jackson popularized it in the 1980's. A birth certificate in 1968 would have read "negro" or "colored."

2. An Amber Alert is issued for a child that left home without leaving a note. Amber Alerts are only issued if there is evidence of an abduction. There was no evidence of an abduction, which would result in a Missing Child Alert, which is not the same thing.

These things are very commonly known, and if a peon like me knew them, surely she could have done a bit of simple fact-checking? I thought publishing houses paid people to do stuff like that.

Otherwise it was an interesting read, but not one I'd re-read or recommend.


  1. Ever since a couple of you have reviewed her novels, I've wanted to read thm. But they must be extremely popular because two of our libraries never have them in stock.

  2. Sounds pretty good, but I don't know that I'd like this one. I agree with Jacki, her novels sound interesting. I might check one out this summer as a beach book (though I don't know if I'm actually going to the beach or not), but we'll see.

  3. I'm a huge Jodi fan. One of her best books is My Sister's Keeper. This is definitely one to read.


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