An infant is found dead in an Amish barn only hours after being born. There’s only one woman of child-bearing age on the farm—and she shows evidence of recently given birth. When she is charged with the baby’s murder, everyone in the area is shocked. No one can remember an Amish person being accused of any crime, much less such a hideous one. Meanwhile, high-profile attorney Ellie just needs a break. After her long-term relationship went sour, she escaped to Amish country to stay with her aunt and uncle on their quiet farm. But now Ellie’s aunt, who used to be Amish and is related to the woman accused of murder, begs her to take the case. Before she knows it, Ellie is living on an Amish farm with the family of the accused as a condition of bail. Not only has she found herself living day-to-day in a world she is completely foreign to her, but she has to try to dig the truth out of a culture she doesn’t understand.
I have a love-hate relationship with Jodi Picoult’s books. I often find the writing style overdramatic and the characters irritating, but I like that she tackles bizarre issues and that there is always a gray area rather than a black-and-white solution. This book is no exception. Having grown up in an area with a high Amish population, I enjoyed the basic premise of the story and the dynamics of the Amish group rang true to me. It seems that Picoult really did her homework. On the other hand, I really didn’t like Ellie very much—she came off as snobby and shallow to me—and I wish they’d left all her personal drama out of the story. I did, however, enjoy the suspense and especially the big twist at the end. I also liked the element of tension that the two different cultures created. Overall, I definitely thought it was worthwhile but it wasn’t a favorite. I think it will definitely appeal to Picoult fans and anyone who enjoys issue-driven fiction.