THE ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC BOOK REVIEW, BY JAMES MYERS
CHANGE OF HEART
By Jodi Picoult
Published by Atria Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc
Publication Date: March, 2008
Four Star Rating ****
ONE OF THE TOP SELLING NOVELISTS IN THE WORLD
HAS HAD #1 BESTSELLERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, AUSTRALIA, & SOUTH AFRICA
14 PRIOR NOVELS
HER NOVEL NINETEEN WEEKS HELD THE #1 SPOT ON NY TIMES LIST FOR 5 STRAIGHT WEEKS
2,000,000, 000 COPIES IN PRINT OF MY SISTER’S KEEPER
1 MILLION COPIES FIRST PRINTING MADE OF THIS BOOK
MY SISTER’S KEEPER WILL BE MADE INTO A MOVIE, SPRING 2008
THE TENTH CIRCLE, THE PACT, & PLAIN TRUTH CURRENTLY BEING MADE INTO FILMS
2003 WON THE NEW ENGLANDER BOOKSELLER AWARD FOR FICTION
2007 WROTE 5 ISSUES OF WONDER WOMAN, ONLY THE 2D WOMEN TO SCRIPT THE SERIES SINCE 1940
“They say God won’t give you any more than you can handle, but that begs a more important question: why would God let you suffer in the first place?
‘No Comment’, I said into the phone, and I slammed down the receiver loud enough that Clair-on the couch with her iPod on-sat up and took notice. I reached beneath the table and yanked out the cord completely so that I would not have to hear the phone ring.
They had been calling all morning; they had set up camp outside of my home. How does it feel to know that there are protesters outside the prison, hoping the free the man who murdered your child, and your husband?”
Jodi Picoult’s new novel, Change of Heart, contains issues that include religion, capital punishment, child molestation, victim’s rights in a criminal case, and redemption. Somehow she weaves this in as perfect a piece of fiction that has been published in the year 2008. June was happily married to a wonderful man, the love of her life. They had a beautiful child, Elizabeth. A drunk driver struck their car, killing her first husband. The police officer who investigated the case, Kurt Nealon, eventually gave her a second chance at life. She was pregnant with her second child, Clair, when tragedy struck again. A handy man that she hired, Shay Bourne, was arrested, tried and convicted of murdering her second husband, Kurt, and her first child Elizabeth. In a bizarre twist of events, when Bourne enters prison on death row as a cop killer, he begins to perform miracles, causing people to believe he is the second coming of Christ. He has a desire to make things right between himself and June. Her second daughter, 11 year old Clair has a heart condition. It is incurable and without a transplant, she will die. Her mother June is desperate to save her life. Bourne has offered the child his heart. His lawyer, Maggie, an ACLU advocate, runs in several problems with the request. First, the child’s mother and victim in the underlying murder case, doesn’t want his help. Second, the method of death in the state is by legal injection, and that renders the heart useless. Third, she have to convince a judge that her killer-client has the right to choose his own method of death. A spiritual adviser is consulted, Father Michael. He has his own secret issues about the Bourne case, namely that he has on the jury panel who not only convicted Bourne, but sentenced him to death. Secondly, he was a hold out against the death penalty, who finally gave in to the others. He directly contributed to the miracle worker’s death sentence, and now it appears he may not have been responsible for the murders at all.
This is a certifiable page turner. Picoult, in her stream of conscious style, buttressed by flashbacks and separate chapters for each character, as they think matters through, each with their own unique prospective and concerns weaves a tale full of unsolvable, fascinating issues. “Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone that you love? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy’s dying wish? Can we save ourselves, or do we rely on others to do it? Is what we believe always the truth?” Picoult has a reputation for taking very topical moral issues that you see on the evening news, and making them very real for us. Placing questions like these in our lapse, uniquely presenting them to us from the each individual prospective. She seems to make everyone’s position seem very plausible, and just when you begin to think there is not way to resolve the issues, her books take an decided twist and the matter is resolved. Change of Heart is just such a book. Well researched, shrewdly engaging, impeccably written, Picoult’s ability to develop the plot line through the internal thoughts of her characters makes for addictive reading. Elaborate weaving of a complicated plot with sensitive issue makes this book a jolting, intriguing joy ride. Picoult’s search for the truth and issue resolution grabs you by the ears and drags you head first through this book of justice and redemption. The rotating speakers and their individual though processes, coupled with Picoult’s slow and deliberate revelation of fact, research, detail and intrigue make you feel like you are watching an old Hitchcock movie. There are surprises and unexpected jolts at every turn. Ms. Picoult has written another winner. “You cannot go wrong with Picoult.” This book should be on your must read list.