The Pact is Jodi Picoult's fifth novel of over twenty in her prolific career as an author. It follows the story of Emily Gold and Chris Harte, young adults who grow up spending almost all of their time together and begin a romantic relationship in their teenage years. Emily Gold becomes depressed due to sexual abuse as a child and a pregnancy that makes her feel trapped in her relationship with Chris and decides to commit suicide. Chris does not want her to die but also feels responsible for helping her cease the pain she is in, so he brings her a gun and is present on the night of her death. The conflict of the novel is whether Chris Harte murdered Emily or was simply part of a botched suicide pact. Chris Harte is sent to prison awaiting a trial and his and Emily's parents must deal with their grief over the state of their lives and the tragic lives of their children. The trial is long and intense, but ultimately Chris is declared not guilty.
The novel itself is complex in organization, told by a third person omniscient narrator and switching between scenes following Emily, Chris, Jordan McAfee (Chris's lawyer), and the four parents of the teenage children (Melanie Gold, Michael Gold, Gus Harte, and James Harte). The novel also switches between sections in current time (Now) and in Chris and Emily's past growing up together (Then). These shifts in time allow for important information to be revealed and reflected upon throughout the story.