Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Release Spotlight: Change of Heart

Change of Heart, by Jodi Picoult

What would you do?
It’s a question often asked in ethical discussions. Would you support the death penalty if the murderer had killed your child and husband? Would you believe in a savior if you saw him with your own eyes?

Jodi Picoult asks these questions and more in Change of Heart, her latest bestselling novel. The fact that she asks these questions, though, isn’t what’s remarkable. What truly shows her skill is her ability to create an entire book around them while still leaving the questions open for readers to make conclusions on their own.

Shay Bourne has been convicted of the murder of a little girl and her stepfather, who was a police officer, and New Hampshire is faced with its first death sentence in decades. As Bourne’s final year before his execution winds down, he pleads with the warden to let him donate his heart to another little girl in need—who happens to be the daughter of the man he murdered, yet unborn at the time of the murder. And somehow, miracles of a Biblical nature seem never too far from Bourne.

Told from the alternating points of view of an unlikely jury member, Bourne’s cell neighbor, the ACLU lawyer who fights for Bourne’s right to donate his heart, and the mother of both little girls, Change of Heart examines the hearts of those mired in battles of grief and hope, anger and regret, ambivalence and belief.

While Picoult addresses heavy topics with impressive research, her writing keeps the story light, an easy bedtime read. “In the beginning,” the book starts—strikingly similar to the Book of Genesis—“I believed in second chances.”

The ease sometimes gets in the way of the quality, however. The story begins to sound familiar, like a cross between The Green Mile and a Danielle Steele novel with its miracle-making death-row prisoner and its dreamy British doctor who falls for the brainiac with no self-esteem—at first sight.

Still, Change of Heart is worth a read and will certainly generate discussion among book groups. Just don’t put it on the syllabus for your literary criticism class.

Review by Ali McCart, Indigo Editing, LLC

ISBN-13: 978-0743496742
Publisher: Atria Books

Pub Date: March 2008

Hardcover: $26.95

Click here for more information, author’s commentary, and book club discussion questions.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Ali!

    I've only ever read one Jodi Picault, The Pact, and then mostly because it was on sale and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It read to me as if she were exploiting issues instead of really exploring them, and I wasn't offended in a political-social-moralistic way, but annoyed that she took a subject that could be dealt with in a meaningful way and instead made it into light reading that meant nothing. Actually I felt the same way about "The Lovely Bones," and never went back to that author either. (Seaboldt or something?)