What Do You Think You Would Do?

I finished reading the David Baldacci book (Memory Man) over the weekend. I have been reading Defending Jacob by William Landay the last few nights. 

I thought it would be interesting to try to put ourselves in the position our main protagonist, DA Andy Barber, finds himself in. And just think about the implications as though we are in his shoes. 

Here is the premise: Andy Barber is 51, a district attorney, married to his high school sweetheart, Laurie. They have one child, Jacob, 14 years old. 

A boy at Jacob's school is murdered. And they are looking at Jacob Barber for it. There was one finger print found that was Jacob's. And he had a knife he'd once shown a friend he'd bought. 

When his parents asked him later why he bought the knife, he told them he just wanted it. He thought it was cool.

There are two things that would decimate you: Your child being killed. And transversely, your child being implicated as the murderer.

One family is grieving the loss of their son. 

But the other family is also grieving. 

The possible loss of the son they thought they'd raised, having to possibly conclude that they didn't really know him at all. And the fact that he may go to prison, tried as an adult. 

And their lives, as they knew it, will never ever be the same. 

They are already shunned and there hasn't even been a trial. People write words of anger and judgment on their house. 

Where one day they were just normal people, the next they are looked at as the parents of a murderer. And naturally, as these things go, they are judged accordingly.

Another fact that Andy Barber has hidden from his family: He is the son of a murderer. He comes from a long line of criminals. But he turned out fine. He went to law school. He became a district attorney who puts criminals away. 

He admits this to his family, knowing all this will probably come out at trial. But now he wonders if they look at him differently. He knows his friends and neighbors and possibly the jury will look at him differently. 

Is there a "murder" gene?

He just wanted his son to have a clean slate. Something he never had. But his wife wonders why, after all these years, he never thought to tell her this. 

Because he was ashamed.

We cannot account for the sins of our fathers/mothers. 

My own father, the one I never knew, was in prison years ago before he died. So was a brother I met a few times. It makes you wonder about genetics, I think. 

I know it is very hard to think of yourself in this predicament. But how do you think you would handle such a cataclysmic event in your life?

Andy's father thinks it is a local pedophile. But the powers that be are not really looking at him. They are bearing down hard on his son, as he tries to investigate on his own. 

He has been forced into a leave of absence. His boss said he should have removed himself from the case as soon as he knew that the two boys went to the same school. It was a conflict of interest.

He also did the unthinkable: He found a knife in Jacob's room, and he disposed of it. The defense attorney is privy to this, and if this is found out, he will be implicated for disposing of possible evidence. 

Of course he never thought he'd do such a thing. But this is his son. 

Do you think you'd be capable of that? Would you do anything for your child? Even cover for him/her? 

I doubt you really know. You couldn't really know.

Human nature can be reduced to a primordial survival instinct when faced with such decisions. Of course you're want to protect your child. But how far do you think you would go?

What are your thoughts on this? What first runs through your mind when hypothetically placed in this position?


  1. I can't imaging being on either side of this issue. Either way it would destroy me. I know that I would be just about anything to protect my children and I also know I would never stop loving them no matter what they did. xo Laura

    1. I feel as you do too. I just don't know how far I would go...

  2. I agree with Laura. It's unthinkable to be thrust into such a position - I don't think anyone ever knows just what they are capable of until it's real.

    1. I think that is a very accurate statement.

  3. Someone very close to me was accused of something horrid. I believe in that person, period. But would I destroy possible evidence? I don't think so.....

    1. From what I read in this book, and the author is an attorney, people going to jail and people getting off is more of a crap shoot than we think. We like to think justice is served. But he makes it sound like it's very iffy business.

  4. Wow! What a thing to have to consider, but any one of us who have children could go through the very same thing tomorrow! I think I would stand on the side of my child, I would refuse to believe such a thing. But yet I know in the corner of my mind I might wonder, is my child capable of such a thing? That sounds like a very good book.

  5. I read Defending Jacob a while back. Very disturbing.

    1. I'm maybe halfway thought the book. I don't know if it's going to be Jacob or this other guy the father is fixated on. Or someone else altogether.

  6. Cataclysmic is the word ... and mind-bending wondering what a parent would do! .. having said that I am quite disgusted with the mother of the 'afflunenza' teen!

    1. I think I mean Affluenza!!

    2. Not sure what you're referring to. But the book gives you an altogether different feeling about the families of the defendant. After all, they didn't do anything. But they will have to live with the outcome.

  7. I have wanted to read this book for awhile and just haven't gotten around to it yet. I completely agree that we can't possibly know what we would do in a situation until we find ourselves in it. When crises and tragedies befall us, we can't always act unemotionally. Good discussion, Brenda.

    1. I think some may be uncomfortable with the discussion topic. I know it's unsettling. But I think we would benefit from putting ourselves in someone else's shoes, as in a circumstance such as this. Life is always stranger than fiction.

  8. Looks like I need to add this book to my list...


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Brenda has been writing since grade school. She majored in professional writing/journalism in college, where she won awards for her feature writing. She loves to decorate, garden, enjoy nature, read and spend time with her Yorkies.


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