An intricate tale of love, haunting memories, and renewal, Second Glance begins in current-day Vermont, where an old man puts a piece of land up for sale and unintentionally raises protest from the local Abenaki Indian tribe, who insist it's a burial ground. When odd, supernatural events plague the town of Comtosook, a ghost hunter is hired by the developer to help convince the residents that there's nothing spiritual about the property.
Enter Ross Wakeman, a suicidal drifter who has put himself in mortal danger time and again. He's driven his car off a bridge into a lake. He's been mugged in New York City and struck by lightning in a calm country field. Yet despite his best efforts, life clings to him and pulls him ever deeper into the empty existence he cannot bear since his fiancée's death in a car crash eight years ago. Ross now lives only for the moment he might once again encounter the woman he loves. But in Comtosook, the only discovery Ross can lay claim to is that of Lia Beaumont, a skittish, mysterious woman who, like Ross, is on a search for something beyond the boundary separating life and death. Thus begins Jodi Picoult's enthralling and ultimately astonishing story of love, fate, and a crime of passion.
Hailed by critics as a "master" storyteller (Washington Post), Picoult once again "pushes herself, and consequently the reader, to think about the unthinkable" (Denver Post). Second Glance, her eeriest and most engrossing work yet, delves into a virtually unknown chapter of American history -- Vermont's eugenics project of the 1920s and 30s -- to provide a compelling study of the things that come back to haunt us -- literally and figuratively. Do we love across time, or in spite of it?
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Read an Excerpt
Ross Wakeman succeeded the first time he killed himself, but not the second or the third.
He fell asleep at the wheel and drove his car off a bridge into a lake -- that was the second time -- and was found on the shore by rescuers. When his half-sunken Honda was recovered, the doors were all locked, and the tempered glass windows were shattered like spider-webs, but still intact. No one could figure out how he'd gotten out of the car in the first place, much less survived a crash without even a scratch.
The third time, Ross was mugged in New York City. The thief took his wallet and beat him up, and then shot him... see more
Reading Group Guide
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1) With a title like Second Glance, what can we immediately assume about the story, even before beginning reading? In what ways does this title help us to understand that this book is not only about revisiting the past, but also about exploring what we thought we knew, what we may have been mistaken about, and how things look different in hindsight?
2) In many ways Second Glance is a rumination on the delicate balance between life and death, suffering and happiness, and desperation and fulfillment. And while all of the characters must find a way to muddle through the madness, they do it in very different ways. Ross is desperate to die, while Ethan struggles with the painful knowledge that he will probably die young. But despite this fact, Ethan seems to be very well adjusted -- he has a sense of wisdom that certainly transcends his age. What might Ross stand to learn from his nephew about the value of life? Do you think Ross does learn anything about the nature of life and death?
3) What kinds of preconceptions and assumptions are challenged throughout this story? Meredith, for example, comes to question everything, thinking to herself, "Maybe the sky was not really blue, maybe science did not hold all the answers, maybe she was not happy with her life." Why is it that most characters in this novel must have their world completely turned upside down before they c see more