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Defending Jacob Review

Written by Karmen Lee

Defending Jacob was written by William Landay. This is how the story goes – the main character, Andy Barber is a lawyer and his job was to put wrongdoers behind the bars. Andy is married to a wonderful wife and had a son named Jacob. Everything was going perfectly normal for the family until one day when Jacob’s classmate, Ben Rifklin was murdered at a park near school. It turned out that there was a crucial piece of evidence that Jacob might be linked to the murder as a fingerprint that was found on Ben’s jacket was testified to be belonged to Jacob’s. Jacob was then accused of being the one who killed Ben and the family was forced to be on trial.

Andy tried really hard to defend Jacob and chose to believe that his son was innocent. He hated the fact that violence ran in his family and hid the fact that his father was once a well-known cruel murderer, just as he thought he could start afresh, build a steady life and be a righteous man to bring up a son to be just like him, he was wrong as his son might really have the “murder gene” as scientifically proven and he could not run away from it. Even when his son might have committed a second murder, he attempted to defend Jacob once again. Little did he know his family was shattering apart when he was trying to piece them back together.

Defending Jacob was heartbreaking to read as I watched how deeply the Barber family was affected by the accusation of murder placed on Jacob. The number of trials they had to go through in court were not easy to bear. With the ups and downs of argument made in court, the family lived through one day to the next with uncertainties and anxiousness – especially not until Jacob was announced as not guilty. People also kept their distance from the family as if the parents gave birth to a monster child. Even if everything was solved and Jacob was freed, they can never go back to what was normal as the past would return and haunt them. A scar was made and it can never be undone.

In the story, it was incredible that the father was willing to do anything to protect Jacob even if it was to hide and destroy any evidence that may lead any suspicion onto his son. He was willing to stand strong and be the shield for Jacob to take in all the bullets. Although when Laurie, Andy’s wife was on the brink to suspect that her son might really have killed his classmate due to Jacob’s coldness about the tragedy, Andy remained to have no doubts and chose to trust his kid.

The story made me realize that love does indeed make people blind. Parents will never see the flaws in their children and they do not see anything that set out to conflict with what they already believe because they love their children too much. To them, they believe their children are still as precious and pure as the day they were born no matter what they did. Truth be told, the thoughts that crossed Andy’s mind which he tried to avoid kept me questioning if Jacob did murder his friend. However, why did Andy try so hard to believe that his kid was innocent when he found a knife in Jacob’s drawer? Is it morally right to defend your child when you knew in heart he may really have killed someone?

Nonetheless, the writer was smart in the sense where he kept readers like me in suspense. He built my curiosity from one chapter to the next, leaving me with many unanswered questions and urging me to flip to the next page to search for the answers. The whole story revolved around one core question: Did Jacob murder Ben Rifklin? Is Jacob guilty or innocent? and the novel kept me all night to search for the answer. The arguments made on the trials made me doubt what the answer was every time when new evidence was brought up in the court. The writer played a good trick with my mind with the wide range of possibilities to what is behind the real truth.

Until the end of the story, it did not fail to break my heart. Jacob was killed by his mother when she crashed the car she was driving onto a bridge. The son who the couple have protected with whatever they can from the start of the story was unexpectedly killed in the end. What worse was that he was killed by his own mother – the one who gave birth to him and the one who loved him most. It must be heart wrenching for the mother as no mother in the world would ever lay their hands and hurt their child. The ending was so sudden it was as if the writer wanted to quickly put an end to the other trial that the Barbers was about to face when Jacob was once again accused of being related to another case of killing. It might have been a good twist that it shocked me.

If only the author wrote in three of the Barbers’ perspectives and not just Andy’s, it might be brought some better understanding to what was the mother feeling and thinking all the while that made her so sullen day by day and made such crazy decision in the end of the story. As for Jacob, I waited for a confession from him about Ben’s murder but nothing came. What was he feeling when he pushed the knife onto Ben’s chest? Did he really not care about the people who got hurt around him? Was him as lack of sympathy as people thought he was? When the ‘incident’ happened, what did he feel when he let out his last breath? Did he feel betrayed by his mother? Questions piled up even when I have flipped over the last page and closed the book. Defending Jacob has definitely brought me on a roller coaster ride and showed me how some things that are protected can still get hurt in the end.

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