Title: Defending Jacob
Author: William Landay
Publisher: Random House/Delacorte Press
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
I’m not a huge fan of courtroom dramas. I bore very easily with too much legal jargon and lawyer persona. So, the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed Defending Jacob and experienced such an internal battle over what I was reading is a testament to William Landay’s brilliant writing and his very compelling story.
The story is from a father’s POV - a father whose son has been accused of an unspeakable crime. A father who just so happens to be the assistant district attorney handling the case and who provides the reader with first hand knowledge of what such an accusation does to a family - not to mention the toll it can take on marriage, career, and even friendships. I wrestled back and forth with the question of, “Did Jacob do it, or didn’t he do it?” I came to my conclusion early on, so one would think I might lose interest in the book... but not even close. There was quite a surprising twist in the story that literally left me with my mouth hanging wide open. I love a book that can do that!
How many times have we been guilty of watching a case play out on TV where a child has been accused of a crime, and a small (or not-so-small) part of us can’t help but wonder where the parents went wrong? How did they raise a child to where they would find themselves in such a predicament? This book really demonstrates how incorrect such assumptions can be. It describes an instance in which the parents did nothing wrong; they were good and loving parents who raised their son in what society would deem the correct way, yet they find themselves being ostracized in their community. Jacob, a handsome, smart, and good boy, finds himself a social pariah. I couldn’t help but feel compassion for him and his family.
Never have I given more thought to the Biblical saying, “The sins of the father are visited on the children,” than I did while reading this book. But to say more would reveal too much, thus robbing the reader of the book’s shock value. I will just say that this was a great read and a thought-provoking story, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in legal thrillers (and even to those who don’t normally enjoy this particular genre). I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I put it down. I’ll definitely be interested in reading more by William Landay.
An ARC of this book was provided by Netgalley for review.