Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult




  PRAISE FOR JODI PICOULT:

  "Beginning with her first book...Picoult has refused to sweat the small stuff. She's concerned with love and truth, the blurry boundary lines implied by both. She forces the reader to look, however uncomfortable the experience might be, at complacent people who discover, much too late, the sad disparity between what they thought they knew and what they know now."

  --Orlando Sentinel Tribune

  "Picoult makes her characters real as reality."

  --Concord Monitor

  "Picoult's novels never disappoint the reader."

  --Ann Hood,The Sunday Journal (Providence, RI) Songs of the Humpback Whale

  "A memorable and entertaining ride, [rendered] with great skill and rich detail."

  --San Francisco Chronicle

  "This powerful and affecting novel demonstrates that there are as many truths to a story as there are people to tell it."

  --Publishers Weekly

  "A structural tour-de-force...Picoult has the true storyteller's ability to evoke a world on the page and pull the reader into it."

  --The Women's Review of Books

  "Jodi Picoult is a more convincing argument for reincarnation than anything Shirley MacLaine has ever written: How could a 26-year-old first novelist have so much knowledge of marriage, of mothering a teenager, of separation and reconciliation, unless she's been down this road before in another guise? Picoult's imagination is formidable."

  --Los Angeles Times Book Review

  "In the surrealistically twinkling hegira sections of this story...Jodi Picoult spreads her wings and catches an updraft."

  --The New York Times Book Review

  Harvesting the Heart

  "Jodi Picoult explores the fragile ground of ambivalent motherhood in her lush second novel. This story belongs to...the lucky reader."

  --The New York Times Book Review

  "Reminiscent of Sue Miller'sThe Good Mother , with a voice all its own."

  --Chicago Tribune

  "Picoult weaves a beautiful tale from threads of sympathetic characters into a pattern told from two points of view, then fringes it with suspense and drama."

  --The Charlotte Observer

  "A brilliant, moving examination of motherhood, brimming with detail and emotion."

  --Richmond Times-Dispatch

  "Picoult's depiction of families and their relationships over time is rich and accurate...Harvesting the Heart[is] a moving portrayal of the difficulties of marriage and parenthood."

  --The Orlando Sentinel

  "Picoult brings her considerable talents to this contemporary story of a young woman in search of her identity...Told in flashbacks, this is a realistic story of childhood and adolescence, the demands of motherhood, the hard paths of personal growth and the generosity of spirit required by love. Picoult's imagery is startling and brilliant; her characters move credibly through this affecting drama."

  --Publishers Weekly

  Mercy

  Named one of the top seven novels of 1996 by Glamour magazine "A quietly powerful book that examines the boundaries of love and loyalty, courage and forgiveness...Picoult writes with a fine touch, a sharp eye for detail and a firm grasp of the delicacy and complexity of human relationships."

  --The Boston Globe

  "I would be surprised if anyone who reads the first 20 pages ofMercy could put it aside again. This is the Real Thing, a novel about plausible people and important ideas told with riveting cinematic clarity."

  --Portland Oregonian

  "An inspired meditation on love."

  --Publishers Weekly

  "A graceful stylist, Picoult entertains her readers not only with feel-good storytelling and irresistible characters but with consideration of such serious moral dilemmas as euthanasia and forgiveness."

  --Booklist

  The Pact

  "Engrossing...The Pactis compelling reading, right up to the stunning courtroom conclusion. Bottom line: Picoult's deft touch makes this her breakout novel."

  --People

  "Picoult is a writer of high energy and conviction who has, in her fifth novel, brought to life a cast of subtly drawn characters caught up in a tragedy as timeless and resonant as those of the Greeks or Shakespeare...this psychologically shrewd tale is as suspenseful as any best-selling legal thriller...she forges a finely honed, commanding, and cathartic drama."

  --Booklist

  "The novelist displays an almost uncanny ability to enter the skins of her troubled young protagonists."

  --The New York Times

  "Jodi Picoult's fifth novel,The Pact , is so good that we can't put it down...It is suspenseful, intelligently written, topical."

  --Detroit Free Press

  Keeping Faith

  "Fans of Picoult's fluent and absorbing storytelling will welcome her new novel, which likeHarvesting the Heart , explores family dynamics and the intricacies of motherhood, and concludes, as didThe Pact , with tense courtroom drama...These characters' many triumphant transformations are Picoult's triumphs as well."

  --Publishers Weekly

  "Picoult offers a perfectly pitched take on the great mysteries of the heart. Her best yet."

  --Kirkus Reviews

  "Addictively readable."

  --Entertainment Weekly

  "Makes you wonder about God. And that is a rare moment, indeed, in modern fiction."

  --USA Today

  Plain Truth

  "A suspenseful, richly layered drama...From the very start, Picoult draws readers in...impressive...Picoult's seventh novel never loses its grip. The research is convincing, the plotting taut, the scenes wonderfully vivid...[An] absorbing, multidimensional portrait of an Amish clan...a hummer of a tale."

  --People

  "AWitness -meets-Agnes of Godcourtroom thriller...both absorbing and affecting."

  --Entertainment Weekly

  "Appealing, suspenseful...Reads like a cross between the Harrison Ford movieWitness and Scott Turow's novelPresumed Innocent , with a dose of television'sThe Practice thrown in to spice up the legal dilemmas."

  --Arizona Republic

  Salem Falls

  A Featured Selection of The Literary Guild(r) "Picoult's description of the legal process is excellent, especially her intriguing and thorough explanation of DNA evidence, and the narrative is impressively complicated, with a couple of eye-opening surprises...Colorful."

  --Kirkus Reviews

  Picture Perfect

  JODI PICOULT

  BERKLEY BOOKS, NEW YORK

  THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi--110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, li
ving or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  Copyright (c) 1995 by Jodi Picoult.

  Cover photography by Millenium/PictureArts.

  Cover design by Monica Benalcazar.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The "B" design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Picoult, Jodi, 1966—

  Picture perfect / Jodi Picoult.

  p. cm.

  ISBN: 1-101-14713-X

  1. Women anthropologists--Fiction. 2. Marital conflict--Fiction. 3. Married people--Fiction. 4. California--Fiction. 5. Actors--Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3566.I372 P49 2002

  2002020867

  CONTENTS

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  1993

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  1989-1993

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  1993

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  Many people made the research of this book possible: Arlene Stevens, C.S.W., and Executive Director of theResponse hotline of Suffolk County, New York; Brenda Franklin of Yorktown Productions; Doug Ornstein, former A.D. at Warner Brothers; Keith Willis; Sally Smith; Ina Gravitz; Dr. James Umlas; Dr. Richard Stone; and Victor A. Douville, Chair of Lakota Studies at Sinte Gleska University. For a variety of services rendered, my gratitude also goes to Tim van Leer, Jon Picoult, Jane and Myron Picoult, Kathleen Desmond, Cindy Lao Gitter, Mary Morris, Laura Gross, and Laura Yorke. And finally, a very special thanks to Jean Arnett.

  1993

  LONG ago on the shores of the Atlantic there lived a great Indian warrior called Strong Wind. He had a magical power--he could make himself invisible--which enabled him to walk around in the camps of his enemies and steal their secrets. His home was a tent that stood beside the sea in a calm, calling breeze, and he lived there with his sister.

  His skill as a fighter carried his reputation far, and many maidens wanted to marry him. But Strong Wind would have none of their silly, simpering smiles, their false boasts of being the perfect match. He said that he would marry the first maiden who could see him coming home at night.

  It was a test he'd conceived to reveal a maiden's truthfulness. Many came to walk down the beach with his sister as the sun hissed into the sea, wishing to capture his heart. Strong Wind's sister could always see him, even when he was invisible to the rest of the world. So when her brother approached, she would turn to the current girl who peered over the horizon. "Do you see him?" And every waiting maiden would quickly lie: Yes, yes, there he was. Strong Wind's sister would ask, "With what does he draw his sled?" The answers were many: With the hide of a caribou. With a long, knotted stick. With a length of strong hemp. His sister would know the lies for what they were, simple guesses, and she knew that Strong Wind would not choose this girl whose footsteps mirrored hers in the wet sand.

  In the village lived a mighty chief, a widower with three daughters. One was years younger than the others. Her face was as lovely as the first rain of summer; her heart could hold gently the pain of the world. Her older sisters, gnarled with their own jealousy, took advantage of her nature. They tried to detract from her beauty by leaving her clothes in rags, cutting off her shining black hair, burning the smooth skin of her cheeks and throat with glowing coals. They told their father the girl had done these things to herself.

  Like the other maidens in the village, the two older sisters tried to see Strong Wind coming through the twilight. They stood on the beach with his sister, feeling the water run over their legs, and waited. As always, Strong Wind's sister asked if they saw him, and, lying, they said yes. She asked how he drew his sled, and, lying, they guessed rawhide. When they entered his tent, the flaps shuddered in the wind. They hoped to see Strong Wind bent over his dinner, but they saw nothing at all. Strong Wind, knowing their deception, remained invisible.

  The day the chief's youngest daughter went to seek Strong Wind, she rubbed her burned face with earth to cover her scars and patched her skirt with bark from the trees. She passed other maidens on the way to the beach, who laughed to see her go and labeled her a fool.

  But Strong Wind's sister was waiting, and when the sun slipped heavy in the sky she took the girl to the beach. As Strong Wind drew his sled closer, his sister asked, "Do you see him?" The girl replied, "No," and Strong Wind's sister shivered at the sound of the truth. "Do you see him now?" she asked again.

  At first the girl did not speak, but her face was turned to the sky and her eyes were as bright as fire. "Oh yes," she finally breathed, "and he is wonderful. He dances on the clouds and he walks with the moon on his shoulder."

  Strong Wind's sister turned toward her. "With what does he draw his sled?" she asked.

  "With the rainbow."

  She too stared at the sky. "And what is his bowstring made of?"

  The girl smiled, and the night washed over her face. "Of the Milky Way," she said. "And his arrows are tipped with the brightest of stars."

  Strong Wind's sister knew that because the girl had admitted she hadn't seen him at first, her brother had shown himself to her. She took the girl home and bathed her, running her palms over the pitted skin until all the scars disappeared from her body. She sang while the girl's hair grew thick and black down her back. She gave her her own rich clothes to wear and showed her into Strong Wind's tent.

  The next day Strong Wind married her, and she walked with him across the sky and looked down on her People. The girl's two sisters were livid and shook their fists at the spirits, demanding to know what had transpired. Strong Wind resolved to punish them for the hurt they had caused his bride. He changed them into aspen trees and dug their roots deep into the earth. Since that day, the leaves of the aspen tremble in fear of the coming of Strong Wind. No matter how quietly he approaches, they shiver, because they cannot put out of their minds his great power, and his rage.

  --Algonquin Indian legend

  CHAPTER ONE

  THE first thing the groundskeeper saw when he went to tend to the small cemetery behind St. Sebastian's was the body that someone had forgotten to bury.

  She was lying on top of a grave, her head pressed close to the headstone, her arms crossed over her stomach. She was almost as white as the seven faded granite markers that surrounded her. The groundskeeper took a deep breath, dropped his trowel, and crossed himself. He inched toward the body and leaned over, casting a shadow.

  Somewhere overhead a gull screamed, and as the woman's eyes flew open, the groundskeeper turned and ran through the iron gate into the dizzying streets of Los Angeles.

  The woman looked into the sky. She did not know where she was, but it was quiet; and since her head was pounding, she was grateful. She tried to remember how she had g
otten there in the first place.

  Sitting up, she touched the gravestone and squinted as the letters dipped and blurred before her eyes. She pulled herself to her feet and balanced against the stone for support. Then she leaned over and retched, clutching her stomach and blinking back tears at the pain shooting through her temples.

  "A church," she said aloud, jumping at the pitch of her own voice. "This is a church."

  She walked to the gate and stared at the cars and buses going by. She had taken three steps away from the church before she realized she did not know where she was supposed to go. "Think," she commanded herself. She put a hand to her forehead and felt the slip of her own blood.

  "Jesus," she said. Her hand was trembling. She felt for a tissue in the pocket of her jacket, a worn bomber jacket she couldn't remember buying, and came up instead with a tube of Blistex and $2.24 in change. She stepped back toward the graveyard and looked behind the headstones for a pocketbook, a knapsack, a clue.

  "I was mugged," she said, wiping her brow with her sleeve. "I must have been mugged." She ran to the door of the rectory and banged, but it was locked. She moved to the gate again, planning to go to the closest police station and tell them what had happened. She would give her address and she would call...

  Whowould she call?

  She stared at a bus sighing at the corner stop. She didn't know where she was. She didn't know the closest police station.

  She didn't even know her own name.

  Chewing on a fingernail, she stepped back inside the gate, where she felt safer. She knelt beside the grave she'd been lying upon and rested her forehead against the cool headstone. Maybe the priest would be back soon, she thought. Maybe someone would come by and offer to help her. Maybe she'd just stay right there.

  Her head began to throb, a drumbeat that threatened to split her in two. She sank to the ground and lay back against the gravestone again, pulling her jacket close to ward off the chill of the earth.

 
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