Monday, July 07, 2008

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

Picoult's latest endeavor tackles the issues of religion and the death penalty. I was really looking forward to reading this one. And I was not disappointed. It seems from the posts I've read about Picoult in the blogging world, you either really like Picoult or really DON'T like her. I am one of those who likes her quite a bit. I think her hot button topics make for interesting forays into fiction. While some of her books are definitely better than others, they all are quick and easy reads. I think it just depends on your interest in the particular topic at hand whether the books hit home with you or not. And I think perhaps now that Picoult has become so successful, there are high expectations for each new work. I feel a few people are unduly harsh in their critiques of her work. She at least entertains if nothing else, and I feel like I at least think about different topics from different viewpoints than I might have before reading her books.

I've never been a particularly religious person, but I'm always interested in reading different viewpoints on the topic and learning more. There were a lot of statements in this book that really hit home for me and helped me define things a bit more with how I see the world of religion. As for the death penalty topic, I've always seen both sides of that issue and its really difficult for me to pick sides on it.

I feel like so many people have reviewed this book, I don't really need to go into the details of the story, but in case you still haven't heard much about this one, here it goes. Shay Bourne was convicted of killing a cop and his daughter. He's been living on death row for 11 years and his execution date is fast approaching. He decides he wants to donate his organs upon his execution and wants the remaining daughter of his victim's family to receive his heart to save her life. This is about redemption among other things. And the great debate in the book is whether or not a single person can believe something so strongly that the court will find it as a valid reason for choosing an alternate form of execution under a religious freedom act. There is also the moral debate about whether the victim's family wants to accept something so personal from the man that took their husband/father and daughter. As usual with Picoult, the story is told through many characters viewpoints.

(***Spoiler alert***) It seems that Picoult's formula calls for some big reveal or surprise toward the end of the novel. My Sister's Keeper had a doozy at the end of it and one I never saw coming. The other books I've read by her hinted at the "surprise" before it actually happened. And well, I feel like this one was quite predictable. I figured out the molesting by the cop father at least half way into the book if not earlier. It just seemed logical to me. So I guess I always sort of believed Shay was innocent. And I guess the big reveal to me was that he did indeed kill someone in the end.

(Edited to add: Complete sidenote, but one of the characters names was Lucius Defresne. He was one of the prisoners on the same floor as Shay Bourne. Anyone else keep thinking Andy Defresne from Shawshank Redemption when you heard Lucius' last name? I wonder if that was a deliberate reference from Picoult or just a random coincidence?)

I'd say this one was one of the better Picoult books I've read. I think it falls smack dab in the middle of the 5 books I've read. I give it 4 out 5 stars.

Other reviews of this book:
Katie from 101 Books in 1001 Days
Alison from So Many Books, So Little Time
Julie from Girls Just Reading
Natasha from Maw Books
Susan from Bloggin' 'bout Books


allisonmariecat said...

I'm not actually much of a Picoult fan, but I don't hate her or anything. I just tend to go the mystery route when I'm looking for a quick & easy read. This sounds really interesting, though!

Holly said...

Maybe I was a little misleading in saying they are quick and easy reads. They are not like your cozy mysteries. :-) They do have a lot of depth to them, they just are written with short chapters and a flow that lends to reading her books quickly (at least for me). :-) I can see how some people wouldn't be a big fan. I guess I'm just not that picky. ;-)

Nicole said...

I usually like Jodi Picoult's books. As you said, if nothing else, they always entertain. I've always found this her books to be quick reads.

Although, after finishing My Sister's Keeper, I was mad at her for awhile.

Maw Books said...

So far Picoult has been hit or miss for me. I had never heard of her until this year (where have I been?) and have now read three. I'm still wanting to read My Sister's Keeper as I've heard so much about it.

Holly said...

Natasha--If you're going to read anything by Picoult, you should definitely read My Sister's Keeper. I was engrossed through the whole thing and couldn't put it down.

Nicole--I know what you mean about the end of My Sister's Keeper. My jaw literally dropped to the floor. I couldn't believe she ended it the way she did! :-)