One uber-author (one of those authors who can crank out books nearly every year) of whose novels I've read quite a few is Jodi Picoult. On her Web site she says she can write a book in nine months - she doesn't know why it takes her the same amount of time every time, but it does. I enjoy Picoult's books because they usually surround a controversial issue with a story about love and family. She puts an incredible amount of research into her stories, so that while they are fiction, everything that can be is factual. Plus, her books are fast reads, they sweep you up from the first page and they're nearly impossible to put down. Here are the five Picoult books I've read so far, in no particular order:
My Sister's Keeper: This book looks at the issue of a family with a child with a devastating, life-threatening illness. When the child is diagnosed, the parents have another child immediately in the hopes of producing a genetic match and in turn helping to cure this disease. What ensues is a lifelong battle for this new child, a battle between being poked and prodded every time her sister falls ill again and the hopes of being just a normal kid. The book alternated between voices of both sisters, their parents, the brother and the lawyer who the youngest hires to sue her parents for the right to her own body. This was a heartbreaking story that really had me thinking about some ethical issues. (Movie News: Dakota and Elle Fanning have been cast to play the sisters and Cameron Diaz has been cast as their mom in the soon-to-come movie of the same name.)
The Tenth Circle: A father who illustrates comic books from home, a mother whose college professorship brings her closer to student then it should, and a daughter, Trixie, who learns what it's like to be in love at 14 and what it's like to have your heart broken, too. Trixie finds herself in violent situation and her father, a normally mild-mannered man, reflects back to his difficult childhood when he tries to protect her. The Tenth Circle looks at teenage angst, racial stereotypes, broken marriages, drug use and sexual violence, all in one household - a household that could be thought of as normal by anyone. One of the most unique features of this book is the mini comic book that runs throughout. I'm not a comic book fan, but I definitely enjoyed this aspect of the book. (Fun Fact: Because the comic feature was so cool, after this book was published, Picoult was asked to scribe the latest Wonder Woman story.)
Salem Falls: Jack St. Bride was wrongly accused of having an inappropriate relationship with one of this high school students and serves time in jail. When he's released he tries to start over in Salem Falls, a tiny New Hampshire town, but once the citizens, in particularly one disturbed 17-year-old girl, find out about his past he find a whole new set of problems. This book brought on that struggle readers sometimes face when we know a character is innocent, but no one in the book does. You just want to scream at them!
Vanishing Acts: 32-year-old Delia learns that what her dad has told her about her mom and their life together isn't all true. In reality, her father kidnapped her from her mother when she was too young to remember. But was it for the right reasons? That's the issue readers have to figure out. Both this book and Salem Falls have several scenes that take place in prison. It's horrifying to think about what goes on in prison (especially to the men who shouldn't be there in the first place), and Picoult brings it all to life - just another aspect of life I'm sure she had to greatly research.
Nineteen Minutes: This story surrounds a school shooting. It looks back over the lives of some of the parents and kids who were involved in the shooting, sometimes from 15 years out. This was a very interesting book in that it looked at how it could be possible for good parents to raise a child who ends up shooting up a school - and how they may not even see it coming. Many of Picoult's books have a bit of a surprise twist in them, but this one had the most shocking one of all. I usually see these things coming, but I didn't until right before she let her readers in on it.