Worldwide bestseller, Jodi Picoult, turns the toughest and most controversial topics into amazing works of literacy. She is a master in both dissecting and describing the tangle of family relationships and the counterbalance of love – beautifully creating situations that not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us. Picoult is a skilled wordsmith, and some of her best storytelling distinguishes her twisting, metaphor-rich 13th novel, The Tenth Circle, about parental vigilance gone haywire, inner demons and the emotional risk of relationships.
Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She’s also the light of her father, Daniel’s life — a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high school; a girl who’s always seen her father as a hero. That is, until her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence. Suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family — and herself — seems to be a lie. Could the boyfriend who once made Trixie wild with happiness have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a seemingly mild-mannered comic book artist with a secret tumultuous past he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back to protect his daughter.
With The Tenth Circle, Picoult offers her most powerful chronicle yet as she explores the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and questions whether you can reinvent yourself in the course of a lifetime — or if your mistakes are carried forever.
Growing up, Picoult was always my idol — I loved her books, her stories, and always admired her writing. Some of my favourite novels are Picoult’s and it was finding her stories that really got me into reading. They always had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath and unable to put down. Once again, The Tenth Circle was no different.
You have to admire the way Picoult takes come of the most controversial and difficult stories and situations and presents them to people in a way that it can make them questions their beliefs. Everything that people thought they knew or believed in can be turned upside down after reading one of her novels.
Which is actually something that Picoult herself has said she hopes readers walk away with after reading one of her novels: that she hopes they consider other people’s points of views. She’s said:
“I don’t always expect them to change their minds about a controversial issue, but I hope they’ve listened to the other side’s point of view, and asked themselves why they believe what they do.”
— Jodi Picoult
As always when it comes to one of her books, once I finished reading The Tenth Circle, I couldn’t help but marvel at what I felt Picoult was trying to teach us — what I felt was the deeper meaning to her powerful story. The idea that the easiest thing in the world is self-deceit.
The thing is, lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others, and even the lies we tell other people are nothing to lies that we tell ourselves. You’d think it was impossible to lie and to fool ourselves, but it turns out it’s the easiest thing of all.
At the most basic level, self-deception is just fooling ourselves into believing something that is false, or equally, not believing something that is true. What Picoult teaches us in her novel, is this:
“People believed what they wanted to believe, no matter what was right in front of their eyes.”
— Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Circle
Perhaps the most tragic way that self-deception harms us is that we start believing our lies and we teach them to others.
Everyone always assumes it’s easier to lie to others than it is to trick ourselves, but that’s not entirely true. Once we convince ourselves of something, once we become hardwired to think or remember something in a certain way everything that comes after is based on that initial deception.
Even more than that, people can easily convince themselves of something that they really want or wish for, purely because that is what they want more than anything, as Picoult shows us.
As Demosthenes tells us,
“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”
You can read an excerpt from The Tenth Circle here.