Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Most Wanted by Jacquelyn Mitchard
I'm going into the vault today. Mitchard's The Most Wanted is her second book published in 1999 after The Deep End Of The Ocean, which was made into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Ocean was very good, but I read it once. The Most Wanted is something I could read year after year and not get tired of it.
This novel centers on Texans Annie Singer and Arley Mowbray--two extremely different women brought together under unusual circumstances. Arley wants a conjugal visit with her convict husband and Annie is her lawyer. The catch? Arley is fourteen. Yep, you read that right, fourteen. Now this brings up an immediate stereotype. Arley must be poor white trash, right? Not so. She's poor and white, but also an honor student on the track team.
To contrast Arley and her convicted husband's bizarre relationship is the more conventional one between Annie and her long-time, live-in beau, Stuart. He wants to get married, Annie's in no rush. She's thinking about kids, but he's consumed with his work as a lawyer fighting to keep death-row inmates alive and has no interest in starting a family.
Against her own judgement, Annie gets the conjugal visit approved. Worst night of Arley's young life? Guess again. And that's what makes this story so compelling. The stereotypes are broken. What's expected doesn't happen, yet the characters and plot never lose their believability.
1999 was a long time ago. I've should go see what else Ms. Mitchard has written since then.