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How Far Would You Go for the One You Love?

The Pact by Jodi Piccoult

*This post contains a triggering subject and should be read with caution. Contains spoilers*

This book that I am about to write about was one of the hardest books I have ever read. There is something about the topic of suicide that really hits where it hurts the most. Mental health is a a very debatable and touchy subject due to the fact that people do not have a deeper understanding about what is happening inside the mind. People don’t see what the person is thinking. There is an assumption that people fighting against mental health issues are over exaggerating, bottling up, being difficult, or even making up the war that is occurring in the brain. As a person who fights depression and anxiety every day, I have the right to say I understand but truth be told I don’t understand what is happening. The worst feeling in the world is knowing that you have lost hope in yourself; knowing that you are looking for a way to escape the pain. The best feeling in the world is knowing that there is someone out there who will help you walk through the battlefield. The most disgusting feeling in the world are the people who could care less about mental health until a tragedy strikes. As soon as someone important commits suicide or harms themselves due to mental health, there are people out there who claim they care and support awareness. Those people run away from the problem when they are put in a situation where they are faced with mental health. Hypocrisy towards suicide, depression, bipolar disorder or any other form of mental health is humiliating. Don’t judge something you cannot see. One day you might regret the decision you make or you might be proud of the life you just saved.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the book I am reviewing has to deal with the subject of mental health. What would you do if your life was planned out for you? What if you had no choice to back away from that rut to live your own life? Chris Harte and Emily Gold were planned to be together from the minute they were born. They were born together, shared the same bassinet together and grew up together. The families would spend every waking minute together. They could read each other like a book. Or at least they thought. One night the Gold’s and the Harte’s received an emergency phone call from the Bainbridge Police department claiming that Emily was dead and Chris was in the emergency room. Emily had a bullet hole through her temple and Chris’s fingerprints covered the gun. Chris claims that himself and Emily were going to the carousel to commit suicide together but the police department claims that Chris shot Emily due to factors that could influence the rest of his life. The Pact bounces back and forth between the past and the present, finding the factors that either caused the suicide or caused the murder.

*Spoiler Alert*

Did you know that the little things in life have the biggest influence on what will happen in the future? Would you catch the signs of suicide before they happened? Do you even know what the signs of suicide are? According to WebMD the signs vary from person to person but anything that seems out of the ordinary should be taken into consideration. The signs include:

Excessive Sadness or Moodiness

Emily Gold expressed her sadness in a diary she kept but that remained unseen to the outside world. Chris Harte began to see how she was losing interest in the time they spent together. Chris didn’t understand what was happening to Emily to cause the sadness but a red flag was present.


Emily was determined that she wanted to attend an art school after graduation. Throughout high school her artwork excelled but as she came closer to her death her artwork moved closer to macabre. The last painting Emily created was a self portrait, but this self portrait didn’t include flesh and bright colors. The face of the painting was a skull where the eye sockets were as black as the deepest hole. She poured her hopelessness into her artwork.

Sleep Problems

Sleep difficulty was not one of the signs that Emily Gold experienced which shows that not everyone shows all the signs of suicide.

Sudden Calmness

The night of her death, Emily was calm about the outcome. Chris was falling apart right in front of her and it was Emily who convinced him that everything will be okay. When Chris pulled the trigger, Emily was in a state of calmness which shows she knew what was about to come. She was okay with what would happen. She had to convince Chris that when she is gone everything will be better.


Emily withdrew herself from the things she loved the most. She had less of an interest in her artwork, in the intimate moments she spent with Chris, and most of all life itself. Chris was oblivious to the moments she wanted away from him and pushed her into an answer. She could not give him the answer he was looking for. He didn’t see that she was losing herself in a dark place that she could not escape.

Changes in Appearance and Personality:

That was another characteristic that Emily didn’t show and that was because she was putting on a fake face for the world to show that she was okay when she was hiding what was really happening in her mind.

Dangerous or Self-Destructive Behavior

When WebMd describes self-destructive behavior, it includes drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex. Emily and Chris had sex without the proper protection that was needed which resulted in Emily being pregnant. The moments before Emily died, her and Chris consumed a small amount of alcohol to numb what was about to happen.

Recent Trauma or Crisis

Emily faced two different traumas in her life. The first one that she experienced was sexual abuse by a McDonald’s employee when she was a young girl. That caused a problem with how she keeps relationships going and how she maintains her life. The second trauma that she was faced with was the positive pregnancy test. That test triggered a loss of hope in her future. She didn't want to see herself at a young age maintaining her life with Chris and a child. In her mind, she lost hope in her future.

There are many different forms of symbolism in the book that really show how Jodi Piccoult wants to get her theme across without bluntly throwing it out there.

The Carousel

Emily Gold spent her last few hours of her life on the carousel but what that really shows is the life cycle. That carousel represents how the world we live in, whether it is cut short or whether it was long, is nothing more than a giant circle. We live our life and start a new circle with childbirth. That continues the life cycle. Emily wanted to stop that cycle. She believed that she stopped her portion of the life cycle by taking away herself and the baby. The carousel also shows that even if there is minor delay, the world keeps spinning. That was what Emily wanted to get across. The world will keep spinning once she is gone. The sun will keep rising every day and the birds will continue to sing. Just because she is gone doesn’t mean the world will stop spinning.

The McDonald’s Employee

He represents a moment when Emily was faced with death. The employee pushed Emily toward death by taking away her innocence. He took away her childhood by altering how she would see the world. Death himself put a piece of himself inside of her soul, causing her to only see the darkness in the world.

The Baby

The baby that Emily was having could symbolize the life that she was throwing away. She didn't want to let a baby into the world where she felt pain. She didn't want the last remaining piece of her to see and feel the pain that she once felt. Taking away that last piece of her would end the suffering. That baby could also represent death. That was the key moment that Emily knew she didn't want to be a part of the world anymore. That took away her innocence and it was not something she was prepared for. She thought that having a baby would cause people to see her for what she thought of herself. That baby pushed her toward death.

When reading this book, I wondered how far I would go for the person I love the most. I could not go through the events Chris did to end the person that means the most to me. I could not sit around and watch the person’s life flash before my eyes. I would do whatever was in my power to help the person. I would have to put all my courage into saying no to make sure that they will see another day.

Mental health is a very serious topic that people take for granted. It is not something that is part of the person’s imagination. There is a serious problem that can be helped with a little love and support. Nothing is more painful then watching someone you care about fight their own battle. With a little help there is not a problem in the world that is not impossible to solve. The best feeling in the world is knowing that you are not alone. There are people out there who feel what you feel but you have to make the step and say “Please Help!” Look at your friends and take a chance in getting help. Only a heartless person will tell you no. Nothing is impossible. You have to tell yourself that you are worth the sunshine every day. You are worth the air we breath and the song the birds sing. Call out for help and someone will hear you. Never give up hope.

1-800-273-8255 (Suicide Prevention Hotline)

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