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The Pact, Jodi Picoult's fifth novel, is at once a love story, a psychological study of two families in crisis, and a courtroom drama that could be taken from today's headlines. It is a multilayered novel that invites discussion about the mysteries of relationships of all kinds: How well do we know ourselves, our children, our best friends? Jodi Picoult has given us a rich canvas that allows us to ponder these questions and to see that it is in a crisis that we find out what we're really made of. In the end, The Pact poses the heart-stopping question: How far would you go for someone you love?

This acclaimed title is a Quill Book Group Selection, featuring questions for discussion and an interview with the author. For information on this and other book group discussions, please log on to our Web site:

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you feel the extended family environment created by the Hartes and the Golds affected their children? Did it contribute to Emily's suicide?

2. Is there such a thing as being too close to another non-blood relative family?

3. How do you feel Chris handled his guilt? Can he justify helping Emily commit suicide?

4- How did the marital relationships of the Golds and the Hartes contribute to Gus's and Michael's temptations?

5. Is Emily correct in believing she had no alternatives to suicide? Explain.

6. Is Melanie justified in her feelings and actions toward the Hartes following Emily's death? What might justify her behavior?

7. On page 35 is the following statement: "Chris and Emily had grown up with love, with wealth, with each other. What more could they have needed?" Comment.

8. In what ways does jail change Chris? In what ways does he benefit from the experience, and in what ways does it hurt him?

9. Consider the personalities of the Hartes and the Golds. Do opposites

attract? Does it make for the best communication in a marriage? How do the events of the book support or deny this thesis?

10. Where do you see these characters in five years?

11. Is the punishment meted out to Chris just? In your opinion, is Chris guilty of murder?

12. Which character in the book is the most adaptable? The least adaptable? Why?

13. Do you think Chris's trial will affect Jordan's view of the justice system? Explain.

14. What is the significance of the "blank" piece of paper that Chris finds in the tin can at the end of the book?