When I saw that Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery were starring in a miniseries show on Apple TV+ called Defending Jacob, I thought I’d check it out. The show is closely based on the gripping novel by William Landay, which I read immediately after I finished binge-watching the miniseries. This review contains spoilers, so if you have not yet read the book or seen the show, then read this review at your own risk! Or, skip the review, and just know that I recommend both the book and the show.
The story focuses on the married couple Andy and Laurie Barber, who live an idyllic life in a quiet American suburb. Andy is a district attorney, and they have a 14-year-old son, Jacob. Andy and Laurie have a good marriage, and their son Jacob seems like a typical, well-behaved kid. But the Barber’s everyday life is quickly upended when Jacob is accused of murdering a classmate. The story is masterfully crafted from the perspective of Andy, a thoughtful man who dearly loves his son. But Andy is not perfect, and though he is conscientious, he also has a secret he has kept from his wife. The key differences between the book and the show are that Laurie’s character is given a greater amount of attention in the show than the book, and that the book has a slightly darker ending than the show. Though the book deals with a murder, there is nothing gruesome about the story; instead, it is more of a character study of a family, as we see their lives slowly change from seemingly normal to utterly unraveled.