Skip to main content
PBS logo
 
 

Book Review of Perfect Match

Perfect Match
Perfect Match
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 142 more book reviews


This is the third Picoult book I've read. The first was "Small Great Things," bought at a garage sale and which I gave three stars; next was "Lone Wolf," which I got off a thrift store free rack and gave two stars. I bought "Perfect Match" at a thrift store closing sale. Picoult is a good writer but she is NOT a good storyteller. Nina, the protagonist, was a completely unlikeable character. I hadn't even gotten to the "incident" part and had already decided I disliked Nina--she seemed completely self-absorbed. In fact, I found myself getting angry because Nina was such an arrogant self-centered person. I stayed angry to the bitter end. The only reason I finished the book was because I was expecting there would be some redemption in the book (there wasn't).

Husband Caleb initially seemed to be a decent guy (and the better parent) but after a while he came across as a sap. Then there's Patrick, Nina's childhood friend who has carried a torch for her all along. I never "got" what was so dazzling about Nina that her husband was so besotted with her that he didn't object to her close friendship with Patrick; and that Patrick was so besotted with Nina that he was okay being on the periphery of Nina's life. Late in the book Patrick referred to Nina as a "goddess." To me she came across as a narcissist.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS: When Nathaniel's abuse is discovered and he quits talking, Nina decides to teach him sign language so he can still communicate. If I remember right, it took just one afternoon with a sign language book for Nina and Nathan to communicate pretty decently. I took ASL about 30 years ago in a community ed class and I don't remember it being that quick and easy. Then when Nathan signs "father" in response to who hurt him, Nina and the shrink immediately assume it's Caleb so Nina throws Caleb out of the house. I would not take the first word of a child, particularly one who had just learned some signs, that he meant that his dad had hurt him. I would do a lot more probing and, I would suspect that a reputable shrink, counselor, etc. would do the same. Anyone remember the child sex abuse scandals of the 1980s (https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-fueled-the-child-sex-abuse-scandal-that-never-was)? Lives were ruined by unfounded allegations based on the assumption that children don't lie. While Nathan wasn't lying, he was also not clearly communicating what he meant.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS CONTINUED: When the parish priest is subsequently accused, Nina shoots him in the head at his arraignment and then does/says various things so she can claim insanity and get off. Although the initial DNA test identifies the priest as the perp, it later turns out that it wasn't him which was confirmed by additional DNA testing. When Nina learns this, she still feels she should be found not guilty. As her trial progressed, it seemed that Nina's conscience was getting to her and she was going to take responsibility for her misguided act. I expected that she would ask for a plea deal and would serve time. Nope. She decided she wanted to change to a bench trial even though the jury was deliberating. The judge decided she was justified in the shooting (never mind that she shot an INNOCENT man) and she didn't have to serve any additional time. I'm an attorney (although I have never done criminal defense or prosecution) and I was shocked that Nina would get off scot-free. Chances of that happening in the real world are very slim.
END OF SPOILERS

I also found it hard to believe that Patrick, who was a police officer, would be allowed to work on an investigation that involved Nina's family. That certainly would be a conflict of interest. The personal life of Quentin Brown, the special prosecutor, added nothing to the story. I also thought the title of the book was odd--wasn't sure how it fit with the story. Then after the final twist, which appears in the last two pages of the book, is revealed, I figured that "Perfect Match" must refer to Nina and Caleb, who are perfect for each other because of what each did to "protect" Nathan.

I think what Nina and Caleb did to "protect" Nathan would be far more damaging (in the long run) for Nathan than the incident that set everything in motion.

I have another Picoult book ("Sing You Home") which I got from a Little Free Library a while back. If that book is of the same "quality" as the ones I've read thus far, I probably won't be reading any more of Picoult's books.