Newest Review: ... sister of his victim. However, death by lethal injection does not allow for organ donation. Can Shay have his sentence changed to anothe... more
Heart swapping or heart stopping?!
Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult
Member Name: charlie1979
Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult
Advantages: Great characters
Disadvantages: A bit too similar to the Green Mile
Jodi Picoult is one of the best known and best selling authors out there so I am surprised that I have not read one of her novels prior to reading this one. I know a few people that love her books so I decided to give her a go and I was certainly not disappointed! Jodi has one many awards for her writing and has written many books, I just need to find the time to read them all now!
Change of Heart focuses on the story of a death row inmate called Shay Bourne who has been convicted of a double murder of a police officer and the officers step daughter. June Nealon is the mother of the murdered child and widow to the officer. June has another daughter fathered by the dead police officer who has a heart defect and urgently needs a heart transplant to prolong her life. The irony in the story is that Shay wants to donate his heart to the daughter Claire when he is executed.
The first thing that stood out to me in this book was the first person writing. Each chapter of the book is written in the first person by each of the main characters. This really did take a bit of getting used to start of with and I found myself flicking back to each character to try and keep up with what was going on and who was saying what! This did annoy me to start off with but the characters are portrayed so well that you soon immerse yourself in to their lives and enjoy the different perspectives that this writing gives you on the characters. All the characters are very strong in this book and you almost start to think what they are thinking. Although the characters are strong they are also very different. You have the character of Shay, a double murderer who seems to perform miracles and be a very gentle man. You go from this to the gentle Catholic priest Michael who is his spiritual advisor and June the distraught widow who only now has her dying daughter left in the world. Each character is very emotional and the author isn't afraid to express their feelings in a very detailed way.
The only main character that doesn't speak in the first person is Shay himself. Most of his actions are told by his fellow inmate Lucius. Lucius is an Aids sufferer but when Shay moves in to the ward his symptoms seem to miraculously disappear! Along with other so called miracles Shay causes uproar with the press and public believing that he is some kind of messiah! I must admit that one scene in particular was a virtual copy of one in the Green Mile! Not wanting to give too much of the plot away I will just say that it involved a death to life conversion! I was worried at this point in the book that it was going to be too similar to the Green Mile but was pleased that it took on it's own identity although similarities were still there throughout.
The story itself is a very controversial one and doing a bit of research into the author it seems that most of her books are like this! The debate that surrounds the death penalty is paramount in this book. The fact that the state in which Shay is to be executed has to build an execution chamber especially causes uproar among the locals. The other problem is that Shay is to be executed by lethal injection which would mean his heart would be worthless and not suitable for transplant. His lawyer fights his case in court for an alternative method of execution so his heart can be saved and donated to this young girl. The main basis for the argument is religion and many arguments take place as Shay is not religious yet he seems to know some ancient quotes from testaments not well known! Is he really a gift from God or just a plain and simple murderer? Will June accept the heart for her daughter from a man that killed her husband and daughter?!
The research that Jodi Picoult has pit into this book is quite astounding, it must have taken her ages! At the back of the book there are a couple of questions answered by Jodi and one of them is relating to the research. Jodi tells how she visited death row in Arizona to get a greater understanding of how the inmates lived and went about their every day lives. Another huge part of research was to do with religion. In the book Shay has a spiritual advisor and there are many religious debates throughout the book. The dedicated research really pays off in this book and I actually came away from reading it feeling that I had learnt something! I remember watching a show on TV a few days after reading this book about Americas most dangerous prisons. The book must have imprinted a vivid memory in my mind about the prison as I watched the TV show and though it was just like that and could almost se Shay sat in his cell!
In summary I would say this is one of the best books that I have read in a long time! To be fair I would like to have given it four and a half stars rather than five due to the cringe worthy Green Mile moment and the difficulty in getting to grips with all the characters at the start of the book. I do not feel that it deserves four stars though as once I got into the book I really couldn't put it down! There is a good twist at the end of the book which I like and the author keeps you guessing right up until the last minute! I am definitely going to be reading some more of Jodi's books now! Where do I start, the list is so long!
Summary: A very talented author!