Posted in Book Review

Defending Jacob by William Landay

defending jacobSYNOPSIS

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected, admired in the courtroom, happy at home with the loves of his life: his wife, Laurie, and their teenage son, Jacob.

Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.

Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family.

It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.

How far would you go?


This book is so much more than a crime/thriller. It is from the point of view of Andy Barber. The narrative is mixed. It goes parallel to Andy’s dialogue in the witness box and the murder of Ben Rifkin. The story is beautifully fused with his testimony.

In his state, an adolescent accused of murder is tried as an adult. Jacob is 14, allegedly killed his classmate Ben Rifkin. There is enough evidence to prove his guilt. But Andy, whose faith in his son does not falter, relentlessly pursues other leads. He is himself an Assistant DA; he knows how the system works. Thus, he does everything in his power to save his son.

What I loved is the emotional and psychological effects of a trial. The book demonstrates how a family suffers from a trial, how it destroys the peace and joy of a family. It doesn’t matter what the court’s verdict is, the jury of your peers already has theirs. It is family drama, a love story and something which stays with you forever. It tests the limits of parent’s belief of their child.

The author builds anticipation and the climax delivers! I can’t say anymore without spoilers. I’m going to end this short review with a 4/5 star rating.


Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized

Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Palace of Illusions is the retelling of the great Indian epic, Mahabharata. The entire book is from point of view of Draupadi or Panchaali, the wife of the Pandavas. The story takes us to a world that includes half-history, half-myth and full magic.
The story reflects Draupadi’s life, like born from Agni or fire of yagna, friendless childhood, where her brother is her only true friend; her complex friendship with the mysterious Krishna; to marriage, maternity and her secret attraction to the undisclosed man who is her husbands’ most dangerous opponent.
Divakaruni has portrayed Draupadi in an enigmatic form. She has enlarged her independence and her fiery personality. Often Draupadi gets victimized in retelling of Mahabharata, but here she was anything but that. She is a strong intelligent woman in a world dominated by men.
The book covers the entire plot of Mahabharata even though it’s only from one point of view. Draupadi is told the events by her brother or her husbands. Dreams and intuition also plays an important role in revealing the whole story. The best part is it did not feel forced. The flow was smooth. Another point is her relationship with Krishna. It is a very misunderstood connection but Divakaruni got it right. The friendship and companionship they shared was accurately displayed.
There are two things why this book is not getting a full rating. The attraction between Draupadi and Karna was over played. I love Karna as a character and there was a dynamic between them. But she loved her husbands. The whole Draupadi-Karna love story was a bit too romanticized. The second reason is underplaying Nakul and Sahadev. Both of them are such strong characters and I would have loved if their relationship with Draupadi was explored more.
It is an amazing book, one of my favourite retellings of Mahabharata. The plot is not changed much. The only creative license the author took was Draupadi’s feelings. The voice given to Draupadi by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is strong and beautiful; it deserves to be heard by all.