Defending Jacob



Truth. That’s the premise of this book. It’s not just the central question: Did he or didn’t he?  Innocent or guilty?

No, it’s so much more than that. It’s truth as the characters see it, specifically his parents. It’s not just how well they can see the truth for what it really is, but how well they can handle it.

Ahh, but then William Landay gives us something special that most books don’t have. In fact, I’ve seen it in the Q & A section of Goodreads as well as in the reviews themselves.

It’s variation of truth. What we see in the ending depends a lot on who we are and where we are in our lives. Some people have a hard time facing reality, preferring a cookie cutter ending, a successful rescue mission, be it from the perfect guy or an unconditionally loving parent.

But let’s be careful with this idea, because it’s a slippery slope. How far are parents willing to go to protect and believe their kids? The answer to that question is visible all around us. Even on Facebook, I see delusional parents who have no idea who their teenagers really are. It’s obvious to the rest of us that their little Snowflake is a thief, a slut, etc., but for the parents, their eyes remain aglow with love and pride, and they defend, justify, even fight to preserve their brat’s “feelings” and “innocence” even in the face of undeniable evidence.

Sadly, this isn’t just for teens and their parents. I’ve seen a mother go off on an elementary school teacher when the teacher said that the woman’s son had cursed her out and called her the B word.  Yeah, and guess what the mother’s response was? “F this, F that, as far as I’m concerned, I’m just glad my son has a new word in his vocabulary.”

All I could do was


I’m not done. Then I weeped for the destruction of all that is holy. Or even just mildly rational:

I’m not a man, but you get the point.

Back to the book.

It’s interesting to see how varied the responses are. That’s great and everything, but I do believe Landay was trying to give readers a cautionary tale about how far down the rabbit hole we can go if we don’t acknowledge the truth, no matter how much it hurts.

“But then, we all tell ourselves stories about ourselves. The money man tells himself that by getting rich he is actually enriching others, the artist tells himself that his creations are things of deathless beauty, the soldier tells himself he is on the side of the angels.”
William Landay, Defending Jacob


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