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Publisher's Summary

A beguiling debut novel about the stories we tell ourselves to survive, the scars that never fade, and the things we choose to call the truth.
Noa P. Singleton speaks not a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ends with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, a woman who will never know middle age, she sits on death row in a maximum security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the heartbroken mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. She tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison - if Noa will finally reveal what led her to commit her crime.
Noa and Marlene become inextricably linked through the law, shared sentiments of guilt, and irreversible mistakes in an unapologetic tale of love, anguish, and deception that is as unpredictable as it is magnificently original.
©2013 Elizabeth L. Silver (P)2013 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"In this grippingly off-kilter thriller, a young woman sits on death row after being convicted of murder until a high-powered attorney – the victim’s mother – intervenes, leaving everyone to wonder why." (O, The Oprah Magazine)
"Silver has written a darkly witty, acerbic jigsaw puzzle of a first novel about legal versus moral culpability…[and] explores convolutions of guilt and innocence beyond the law’s narrow scope with a sharpness and attention to detail that can be unnerving but demands attention." (Kirkus)
"Vividly written debut novel...Silver definitely delivers a thought-provoking examination of the criminal-justice system, providing a clear-eyed view of the artificial theatrics that dominate criminal trials and a heartfelt look at both grief and remorse. An intriguing debut from a writer to watch." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Paul on 07-08-13

Sorry, but not the next "Gone Girl"

There’s no question the book is compelling but to be truthful the readers (they are to be praised for a magnificent read. They made us hate all the characters so much that we just had to know what motivated them) saved it from failure. The moral ambiguities that the story brings out are worthwhile to discuss, ie. Is the death penalty moral?” but the story doesn’t do it justice. The author definitely succeeded in forcing me to finish to find out what really happened but I felt (don’t want a spoiler here) the ending was somewhat non-believable. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book but it was no, “Gone Girl”. When I finished the book, I realized that I didn’t “believe” any of the characters even though I knew them well. Was this Ms. Silver’s intent? I don’t think so. I think it is just a case of a first novel lack of depth. I know it’s not fair to compare but when I read a book like this (here I mean the author’s linguistic gymnastics), I’m forced to think of a book like “American Pastoral”. After all, we have to set the bar somewhere. When I think of the characters in Noa P, they are so anemic and thinly drawn that they disappear almost as quickly as the earplugs are out. During a talk to librarians on Youtube, Ms. Silver admitted getting the idea for the plot while taking a capital punishment course in law school but only began writing the book in earnest while she was working on a real life capital punishment case. That sounds about right to me; she was working out her own ambiguities of the issues in the case in fiction. The problem is that she had too much law and not enough character in the writing. Although she tries to describe the legal system objectivity, if she stays in the legal profession, I would be shocked. Her dislike of her chosen profession is so obvious. I think that is ultimately one of the flaws of the book. During due diligence of the revisiting of the case, the inadequacies of the trial are so numerous, that it’s hard to believe a death sentence makes any sense. I think Ms. Silver lucked out on getting such a boost of publicity. We were all “Jonesing” for the next “Gone Girl” and voila’ “Noa P appears. Great premise and potential and great marketing but ultimately the book doesn’t deliver. I have to place this book in the “a good quick summer read while waiting for the next really great book” category.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Pegeen on 07-13-13

well-written but too many facile connections

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

yes interesting ideas about the justice system without being preachy; needed more character development for some of the "history" and connections between the characters.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

knew it was coming -- expected more karma for Marlene.

Have you listened to any of Rebecca Lowman and Amanda Carlin ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

narrator for Noa (Rebecca Lowman) was perfect in voicing the false bravado assertiveness covering the gaping need inside of Noa. Marlene (Amanda Carlin) was OK but not as good but I think that was just because the character wasn't developed as much by the writer.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

no -- they would miss the gray areas.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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