Friday, April 18, 2008

Julie's Review: Change of Heart

Summary: Picoult bangs out another ripped-from-the-zeitgeist winner, this time examining a condemned inmate's desire to be an organ donor. Freelance carpenter Shay Bourne was sentenced to death for killing a little girl, Elizabeth Nealon, and her cop stepfather. Eleven years after the murders, Elizabeth's sister, Claire, needs a heart transplant, and Shay volunteers, which complicates the state's execution plans. Meanwhile, death row has been the scene of some odd events since Shay's arrival—an AIDS victim goes into remission, an inmate's pet bird dies and is brought back to life, wine flows from the water faucets. The author brings other compelling elements to an already complex plot line: the priest who serves as Shay's spiritual adviser was on the jury that sentenced him; Shay's ACLU representative, Maggie Bloom, balances her professional moxie with her negative self-image and difficult relationship with her mother. Picoult moves the story along with lively debates about prisoner rights and religion, while plumbing the depths of mother-daughter relationships and examining the literal and metaphorical meanings of having heart. The point-of-view switches are abrupt, but this is a small flaw in an impressive book. ~amazon.com/Publisher's Weekly

Review: When I first read a brief summary of this book on Jodi's website about a year ago I wasn't sure what to think since a novel about the death penalty didn't seem too appealing but I will pretty much always read Jodi's books and I'm glad I didn't doubt this one. Jodi has a way of writing a book that in most cases you sympathize with the villain in the story. I have always enjoyed the way she writes the story from various points of view and I feel that in the case of her novels it always works well.

Change of Heart: A Novel is a novel about Shay Bourne and his quest for redemption and salvation by donating his heart. He believes that this is the only way that he will atone for his unforgivable crime(s). Strange occurrences start to happen to the people around Shay and to say he becomes a media frenzy would be to put it lightly. There are a whole cast of characters in this book that are all very pertinent to how the story is told and executed. My favorite character was either Maggie or Father Michael. They both seemed so real to me and went through a good amount of change during the story. Now I must say there are a few things I did see coming but I don't feel that they took away from the story, in fact I think they added to it. There are a couple of good twists that move the story in a different direction.

I grew up in a Christian home and have always found religion very interesting. This book talks about the Gnostic Gospels and how they were left out of the Bible because the Catholic Church felt they didn't follow the doctrine the church was preaching. The Gnostic Gospels seem to be more along the line of doing good things will make you more like Jesus. Now I think that obviously this was and is still controversial and I love that Jodi worked it into her book and it became very relevant. Now if you are looking for a profound take on the death penalty and religion this isn't the book for you but if you want to read a novel that will make you think about things in a new way Change of Heart: A Novel is a must read.

Final Take: 4.5/5

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