Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
From the back of the book:
'The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn's mother, took the child's life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide - and for the first time in her high-profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live 'plain' Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. And as she unravels a tangled murder cases, Ellie also looks deep within - to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past reenters her life.'
In Plain Truth there is, of course, the mystery of the baby and what happened to him but it is more about the people and how they react to the death of the baby and the accusations that are made and how they deal with each other. It explores the relationships between the characters and you can see how they develop and change as certain things come to light and as beliefs and assumptions are challenged. The interactions are interesting and complex because many of the characters are worlds apart, culturally, religiously, and mentally. I don’t think I ever felt as sorry for Katie as I was supposed to and I had trouble finding sympathy for Ellie as well but I still wanted to know what was going to happen to them, as I did for the other characters. The characters and story are compelling enough to get you involved in the lives of these people as they, and the reader, all try to figure out what the truth is. I did not really understand the point of the story line about Katie’s little sister, Hannah. It seemed tacked on and not really to go anywhere or be part of the bigger story. Maybe it was to give Katie some connection to Adam, who you would normally think she would have nothing in common with, but if that was the point I don’t think it was made strongly enough. I was also kind of let down when I found out what had happened between Ellie and Coop in the past. All the build up and all the tension led me to believe there was something huge and there would be a big revelation, but there just wasn’t one. I didn’t really like the ending of the book and the answer to the mystery but I was glad to have the answers because I was starting to think that some things would remain a mystery and we would never find out what really happened. And I must admit I hadn't figured it out. You do learn a lot about the Amish community (I have assumed that Picoult has done the research and the information is correct) and I found that very interesting. Sometimes it did seem a little forced because the Amish were always explaining themselves or being explained in semi-long speeches. But it did fit into the narrative because it was court testimony or the answer to Ellie's questions and it never became overbearing so it is a small complaint. The book managed to hold my interest through all the point of view changes, shifts in the story, and small twists and turns along the way. It was a nice, rather quick, read but it isn’t the kind of book that will make me run out and read everything Picoult ever wrote. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.