Defending Jacob by William Landay

Title: Defending Jacob11367726
Author: William Landay
Pages: 421
Year: 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own–between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

This was a really interesting read, I LOVED that it switched back and forth between Andy’s POV and the trial transcripts. The writing was pretty authentic, considering that William Landay is a former district attorney himself. He really knew what he was talking about with regard to legal jargon, which I really appreciated. Some authors really have no sense of the justice system and it really shows in their writing. (Seriously… write what you know.)

When I was recommended this book, I was told to expect a plot twist. The one I got was underwhelming. It was most definitely a plot twist, but it was so subtle that I didn’t even realize that it was a plot twist. (Should I say plot twist again?) I think most of the “twist” came from Andy being an unreliable narrator. For most of the novel, we’re viewing Jacob and the case through Andy’s eyes. We operate under the mental bias of a father protecting his only son and while it doesn’t influence your entire opinion of Jacob to the point of thinking of him as innocent, it definitely places a veil over the whole thing.

Finally, I thought that Defending Jacob did a great job exploring the question, “What would you do?” I am not a parent, but I don’t know what I would do if my child was accused of murder. How can you look at a person you created and raised up as being a cold-blooded killer? Would you believe or deny it? Would you protect them and possibly endanger other innocent lives? Or would you condemn them to a life in prison or even the death penalty? Andy and his wife Laurie fall on opposite ends of this spectrum. Andy believes wholeheartedly in his son’s innocence and does all he can to ensure Jacob has the best defense possible. Laurie has her doubts of Jacob’s innocence, and her inner turmoil of whether or not to condemn her only son is presented throughout the novel. As a single person without any children, it’s hard to say where I would fall on this spectrum. I hope that I never find out.

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