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Book Club Kits: Defending Jacob

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

At home, Andy Barber is a quiet family man, a devoted husband and father. At work, he is a trusted senior prosecutor, the District Attorney’s right hand and master trial lawyer. When a teenaged boy is found dead in the woods near Barber’s suburban home, naturally he takes on the investigation, as he has countless homicides before. But the case may be Barber’s undoing: in a terrifying swerve, Barber’s own 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of the murder.

The boy insists he is innocent, and Barber rallies to his son’s defense — as any father would, he thinks, as any father must. But defending Jacob exacts a terrible price. Neighbors lock their doors against him. Jacob’s classmates refuse to talk. Barber’s marriage begins to crumble as his beloved wife Laurie buckles under the relentless pressure of suspicion. Finally, as Jacob’s trial intensifies, Barber faces a trial of his own, in which he is forced to confront his own secret history, a past he thought he’d buried long ago.

Read an excerpt from the novel.

Discussion Questions

  • How would you have handled this situation if you were Andy? Would you make the same choices he made? Where would you differ the most?

  • Before and during the trial, how would you have handled the situation if you were Laurie?  Do you feel she made strong choices as a mother and a wife?

  • Is Andy a good father? Why or why not?

  • Do you believe Jacob is guilty?

  • Is Jacob a product of his upbringing? Do you think he is he a violent person because his environment makes him violent, or do you think he has violent inclinations since birth?

  • Bullying is such a hot topic in today's media.  How did the author incorporate it into the story, and do you think its role had anything to do with Jacob's disposition?  How do you think people should stop adolescent bullying?

  • How much of a factor did Jacob's age play into your sympathies for him or lack thereof?  If Jacob were seventeen, would you view him differently?  What about nine?

  • Do you think Neal Logiudice acts ethically in this novel?  What about Andy? What about Laurie?

  • What was the most damning piece of evidence against Jacob?  Was there anything that you felt exonerated him?

  • If Jacob hadn't been accused, how do you think his life would have turned out? What kind of a man do you think he would grow up to be?