Defending Jacob takes a look at a family in crisis. The father, Andy, is a District Attorney investigating the horrific murder of a child. Andy investigates this murder in a somewhat detached way and doesn’t even consider that the suspect might be his own son. As the story moves along the reader learns some details about Jacob that are disturbing and tragic. What is more interesting is how the father, Andy, goes to great lengths to view his son as “normal”. The mother sees her son more clearly and this sets the strange dynamic within the family unit. It is also interesting that the parents of the boy that was murdered did not appear to see the bullying that their son was engaged in. The community of parents is definitely challenged by the events in this story. The author shows the mundane and then slowly peels the covers away to reveal the judgmental nature that can happen in an instant when trouble comes.
William Landay has brilliantly told a story about bad things that can happen in seemingly normal families. How the actions of a child can put the parents in jeopardy of loosing everything. This story told from Andy’s point of view is sad as it is tragic. Andy should have seen the signs long ago that his son needed help. The question of culpability of that parent plays subtly into this storyline. By not addressing the problems as they were uncovered eventually put the safety of others in jeopardy. It is surprising how little both Andy and Laurie knew their son. They did not appear to have a clue about his friends, his life at school or anything other than surface information. The author, through Andy’s point of view, looks back into Jacob’s and his own history to start assembling the pieces and drawing conclusions. Andy and Laurie do not appear to reach the same one. There is a twist at the end of the story that raises the question of a parent’s love. It is the mother in the end that perhaps did what she saw as the best thing for her son.
At the Childfree Life there is often discussion about the life script and how the sugar coated image of family is often portrayed in literature. That is not the case in this book. The life script goes terribly wrong in the lives of this family.
This thriller held my attention from start to finish.