This deftly written novel borrows its Dantesque title from an autobiographical graphic novel penned by its protagonist, comic book artist Daniel Stone. Like his main character, Stone grew up as a violent, alienated white outsider in an Alaskan Inuit community. Time, though, has been kind to him, and he now lives as an attentive, stay-at-home dad in Bethel, Maine. All that changes, however, when his 14-year-old daughter returns home after being raped at a party by her ex-boyfriend. With the news, Stone's emotional control dissolves and he begins a painful reentry into an inferno that he had left behind. The 13th novel by the author of Vanishing Acts and My Sister's Keeper measures up to its predecessors.
As Picoult notes, one in six American women will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape during her lifetime. Those who have survived a sexual assault will recognize Trixie's subsequent dissociation, the cold horror of the emergency room and police interview, the sense of a life being irrevocably broken, as well as the rage and guilt of Trixie's parents. Trixie accuses Jason of rape, but when her name is leaked to local media, she's ostracized and tormented by her schoolmates, who accuse her of having been a willing participant.
The Washington Post
Some of Picoult's best storytelling distinguishes her twisting, metaphor-rich 13th novel (after Vanishing Acts) about parental vigilance gone haywire, inner demons and the emotional risks of relationships. Comic book artist Daniel Stone is like the character in his graphic novel with the same title as this book-once a violent youth and the only white boy in an Alaskan Inuit village, now a loving, stay-at-home dad in Bethel, Maine-traveling figuratively through Dante's circles of hell to save his 14-year-old teenage daughter, Trixie. After she accuses her ex-boyfriend of rape, Trixie-and Daniel, whose fierce father-love morphs to murderous rage toward her assailant-unravel in the aftermath of the allegation. At the same time, wife and mother Laura, a Dante scholar, tries to mend her and Daniel's marriage after ending her affair with one of her students. Picoult has collaborated with graphic artist Dustin Weaver to illustrate her deft, complex exploration of Daniel and his beast within, but the drawings, though well-done, distract from the powerful picture she has drawn with words. Laura and Daniel follow their runaway daughter to Alaska, at which point Picoult drives the story with the heavy-handed Dante metaphor-not the characters. Still, this story of a flawed family on the brink of destruction grips from start to finish. 20-city author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
When a comic book artist married to a Dante scholar writes a graphic novel, what better title than The Tenth Circle? Of course, Daniel Stone feels he's descended into hell when his 14-year-old daughter, Trixie, is date raped by Jason Underhill. Despite his soft and gentle Maine demeanor, Daniel had a wild and violent past growing up in Alaska, and letting the police investigation proceed is setting off a rage he had long suppressed. The night of the attack, he also learns his wife, Laura, is having an affair. Hell would be preferable. Picoult's (Vanishing Acts) latest novel actually features Daniel's artwork in a tale that parallels his real life, and readers are drawn into the mystery surrounding the events of the rape and its subsequent effects on all concerned. What truths will be revealed? And who, ultimately, will find justice? Picoult had this reader up until the very end of this fast-paced tale. As with her previous novels (e.g., My Sister's Keeper), Picoult doesn't guarantee a happy ending, but something here just missed its mark. Still, this best-selling author is going to be in demand. Recommended for most public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/05.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Picoult (Vanishing Act, 2005, etc.) fumbles in this 13th novel of, predictably, a family in crisis. To all outward appearances, the family Stone seems a happy trio: Mother Laura teaches Dante at the local university; her 14-year-old Trixie is popular, dating the town's high school hockey hero Jason Underhill; and Daniel, a stay-at-home dad, has finally hit it big with the debut of his own comic book, The Tenth Circle. Inspired by his wife's work, Daniel's hero Duncan/Wildclaw descends into hell in search of his kidnapped daughter (sections of the comic book, illustrated by Dustin Weaver, appear at the end of each chapter). As his alter ego tours the circles of hell with Virgil, Daniel's family begins to unravel: On the night that Trixie is raped by her boyfriend, Daniel discovers Laura has been having an affair with a student. Picoult usually infuses a bit of suspense into her dramas, and this effort is no different as Trixie's testimony comes into question-is Trixie just out for revenge on the boyfriend who dumped her? As the DA and detective try to build a rape case, Trixie becomes ostracized at school, continues to self-mutilate and then finally attempts suicide. She's saved in time, but soon after her recovery, Jason is found dead, and it's beginning to look like Trixie killed him. Afraid she'll be charged with Jason's murder, Trixie runs away to the Alaskan Eskimo village where Daniel was raised (and tormented as the only white boy), forcing Daniel to confront his past, save his daughter, save his marriage and make everything okay in the universe, as every superhero should. As a third-act whodunit-the culprit is an easy guess-the story fails. Picoult, who is so often an inventive andcompelling storyteller, relies here on convention and sentimentality.
"When it comes to the freeze-frame of a family caught in the headlights of loss and irreversible regret, Picoult has no equal." Jacquelyn Mitchard
"The worlds Picoult creates for her characters resonate with authenticity, and the people who inhabit them are so engaging." People