If you follow me on The Whyte Star Project, you’ll be familiar with my love of introducing content and offering context for reading it. If you haven’t checked out my creative writing, why not? Ha ha, kidding. In all seriousness, I always prefer to offer some insight as to why something is relevant, because it isn’t always obvious to people (and sometimes, folks just need that gentle insight into how my mind makes a specific connection). It makes a lot of sense for me to do so here because this is supposed to be my “portfolio,” and I’m not with my readers in person to explain verbally.
The first novel we covered in Popular Literature was Jodi Picoult’s The Pact. This was actually my first (and only, to date) Jodi Picoult book. I’ve heard many people comment that she’s “depressing,” but I will use a direct quote from my host teacher to describe her: “Jodi Picoult is an author who has her fingers on the pulse of our society’s issues.” The more I turn this very poignant quote over in my mind, the truer it feels.
Now, I’m sure quite a few readers out there are saying to themselves, “Jodi Picoult? The Pact? In Catholic school? Are you out of your mind? Who does that?” I’m sure I left out a few variations (including ones that contain “colorful metaphors,” as Leonard Nimoy said as Mr. Spock in Star Trek IV). My response to all of the raised eyebrows and astonished educators out there is a calm, clear “yes.” Jodi Picoult is a genius, and The Pact is one of those books that should be embraced for instruction, as it has so much relevance to the modern high school student: family pressure, life after unreported abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide, guilt… I could go on, but that’s what the lesson outlines I will be uploading touch upon.
In a previous post, I mentioned how the course was designed to touch upon the ambiguity of modern fiction. The Pact leaves the readers with a lot of emotion and questions in its conclusion that imprint that sense of ambiguity. The trial and its conclusion in the text also bring up a very intriguing glimpse into society: guilty versus not guilty, which is a completely different conceptualization from guilty versus innocent.
On a side note, I have discussed this when presenting sample lesson plans at job interviews. I’ve watched eyebrows raise all the way to my interviewers’ hairlines. There is a reason and a method to The Pact that makes it an amazing work to study in a literary context.