Jodi Picoult, author of youth-in-peril bestsellers like "My Sister's Keeper" and "Nineteen Minutes" recently completed a draft of a book, "Lucy's Luck," in which nobody died, got sick, molested, abducted or otherwise harmed.
The main character, Lucy, comes in for some mild teasing from the school bullies because she is on the math team, but her high self-esteem leaves her psychologically unharmed. Her greatest physical challenges come from a stubbed toe and a paper cut.
But Picoult's worried family reports that she has taken voluntary bed rest since she submitted the finished draft to her editor three days ago and has subsisted on unsweetened lemon juice and raw onions.
"'It's all I deserve,'" Picoult murmurs faintly, according to her anxious husband, Tim Van Leer, when he tries to convince her that she should eat something more substantive and, well, less smelly.
Van Leer says that he'd read Picoult's latest manuscript and while he was surprised that it did not include anything more tragic than the protagonist getting a $75 parking ticket (which her loving parents do not even scold her about) it still included her trademark taut suspense and believable adolescent dialogue.
"I think that her fans will love this book just as much as all her others," he said. "In fact, some of her readers have begged her to write about something that's not depressing for a change," Van Leer says, showing some tear-stained, handwritten letters on personalized floral stationery as proof.
Picoult typically leads an active lifestyle, helping to care for their 10 chickens, eight ducks, three children and two miniature donkeys. Her distraught family has been encouraging her to begin writing a new book in the hopes of improving her spirits.
"We've been suggesting all sorts of plot twists," says eldest son Kyle. "Like, a wheat farmer can discover that his gravely ill son is a severe celiac and the dad's guilt tripping over not wasting food contributed to his permanently compromised immune system. I think that might cheer her up."