I love Jodi Picoult's novels because I admire the way she writes and brings her characters to life, not missing even the tiniest details about the characters. Her writing and storyline is brilliant and perfectly researched and yes, she keeps you guessing till the end.
However, when I read The Tenth Circle, I was so disturbed. It is about a father called Daniel, a cartoonist by profession. He is the perfect father and husband and his world revolves around his daughter Trixie. The story revolves around Trixie who is a typical teenager till she comes home one night, alleging that her boyfriend had raped her.
From the time she entered her teens, her father senses that for the first time, he has lost her because she is in a world he cannot enter - the violent, sexual world of teenagers. What makes it worse is that she is keeping a distance from her father, not because she doesn't love him anymore but because the secrets she has to guard are the very things no father wants to hear about his daughter.
The investigation into the rape shocks Daniel and his wife because they realize the daughter they had believed they raised was a completely different person when she was with her friends. She had done the most unbelievable and unacceptable things because she wanted to be popular in college. This didn't bring her the happiness that she thought it would because in campus life, a girl's ratings change every minute, in a very cruel way.
The reason I mentioned this book here is that though I was very emotionally disturbed by what i had read, I felt a million times worse when I picked up the newspaper today and read about 9 DPS students who were suspended from school because they had been found indulging in 'objectionable behavior' by the students. Six boys and one girl were caught in a compromising situation in the school bathroom while three girl students, during a picnic, had ventured off to indulge in similar activities and they were caught by a teacher. The news report stated that their parents are so outraged and they don't believe a word against their children and complained bitterly against the school.
Whether we like it or not, sexual encounters in Indian schools are more shocking and hushed than we can imagine. Students are feeling forced to do things that they are not meant to do at such an early age because it is all about keeping scores with the rest of the kids. They don't want to risk being labeled as 'virtuous,' a tag that is considered the ultimate dishonor in campus life today. Another fact is that we are all becoming uber cool parents who don't want to sermonise to our kids and in the process of being liberal, we fail, at some level, to give them the timely guidance they need at that vulnerable stage. We recognize them as our children and therefore, we dont want to believe they are capable of doing forbidden things that can harm everything we are striving for their future to become. Lets face it, we have a responsibility to their welfare. Yes, we dont want to suffocate them with archaic rules, regulations or caning, but where is the perfect moment to step in and say, "No, this is not acceptable because it will ruin your future and your growth."
I don't know when that perfect moment will materialize because most of us believe our kids are perfect. In our eyes, they are.
I feel strange and disturbed about this. I worry about how worse the peer pressure and these encounters are going to be for my son. I believe that the destruction of a child's innocence is much more than just a physical transition.
Dear God, help us to take parenting more responsibly and keep our kids sane and safe. I pray this every day because I am a mother and selfish as this sounds, I don't want to lose my only child because at some level, I failed to seize that perfect moment.