So if one were to compare popular fiction with dining, you could probably say writers like Danielle Steele, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, etc are the McDonald's of writers. I would probably equate Jodi Picoult with Applebee's. Reading a Jodi Picoult novel is like casual dining. You pretty much know what you're going to get, and you don't expect anything life altering. But it's entertaining, it's atmospheric, and it certainly feels at least a bit more upscale.
This novel is about a family: a mom, a dad, a daughter, and how they react to the daughter's rape. And also the dad's past in Alaska. And also the mom's affair. And also the towns' reaction to the rape. And also a sled dog race in Alaska. And there's also a graphic novel, and you learn a little about Dante... Basically, there is a LOT going on in this novel. I felt like the author tried to cram a few too many things into this novel, and in the end was unable to tie up everything nicely. A lot of things just got sort of thrown in there; there are themes and characters and locations running amok!
But overall, I enjoyed this book. You'll get caught up in the story, and it is well written other than the overkill of plot lines. This is a decent read and I would recommend it. Maybe you should take it with you and read it while waiting for drinks at Applebee's.