Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Change of Heart

I’m reading Jodi Picoult’s latest novel. Once again she dives into controversial issues, this time capital punishment and organ donation. When she was pregnant with Claire, June’s husband and daughter were allegedly murdered by Shay Bourne. Now 11, Claire needs a heart transplant, and Shay, on death row, wants to give her his heart after he’s put to death.

As with several of her other books, the story is told from many different perspectives: June, Lucius (Shay’s cell neighbor), Michael (Shay’s priest), and Maggie (Shay’s lawyer). While on death row, miracles start to happen: water turns to wine, a bird is raised from the dead, a piece of gum becomes never-ending and a disease is cured. The cell occupiers, as well as the public, believe Shay is the next Messiah.

Sound a little familiar? Didn’t someone already write this story? Change the bird to a mouse and make the illness a major UTI and I think Stephen King covered it the first time in “The Green Mile.” So, that’s been throwing me off a little bit. Why copy – and so blatantly? And of course, as with any Picoult books, there will be a twist. I’m 90 percent sure I already know what it is.

Picoult’s book are always engaging, so this one isn’t any different. The arguments for and against capital punishment are definitely interesting to think about, as are the thoughts about religion and what people believe in. However, even though I’m only halfway through, I’m disappointed. I expected a little more. It’s too similar to someone else’s work. Some of the questions get answered a bit too conveniently. I didn’t want to figure out the ending 20 pages in. (Though, since I’m not done yet, I could still be wrong.)

However, the book raises an interesting question: If your child needed a heart, would you accept one from a murderer? Even if he was the man who murdered your family? If you were Claire, would you take the heart? Pretty sure I would.

My favorite quote mentioned in the book: “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Mother Teresa.

Somedays that just says it all.


willikat said...

i read vanishing acts by her not long ago and i really thought it was bad..... after everyone has made a big deal of her, i was like "this is it?"

A. said...

That's the thing though. I've been pretty darn pleased with her past books. I liked Vanishing Acts pretty well, but REALLY enjoyed Nineteen Minutes, My Sister's Keeper and The Tenth Circle.

But, if you're going to write a book a year, they can't all be fabulous, I guess. :)

CMS said...

I think she's a decent writer (not my favorite, but good), but what I really like about her is the fact that she writes about controversial issues through the perspectives of a rotating cast of characters. It seems like she really researches her topics. I had no idea that she writes a book a year ... but I did read that she sits down and writes every day, whether or not she's in the mood. She's been quoted as saying, "You can always edit something bad. You can't edit something blank."

A, was I going to borrow My Sister's Keeper from you? Do you have that book?

Anonymous said...

I already read this and I look forward to hearing what you think once you finish.

I've loved so many of her books (My Sister's Keeper and 19 Minutes especially) but I am starting to feel like she's got too much of a pattern.