Newest Review: ... only the thought that if she can find her own mother it might help her regain her strength, but will it be too late for all the people inv... more
The Power of Love.
Harvesting the Heart - Jodi Picoult
Member Name: QueenElf
Harvesting the Heart - Jodi Picoult
Advantages: Dual themed story, great characters, rich read.
Disadvantages: May seem a little contrived.
***The Duality Theme***
Many of Picoult's books have a dual theme and this was no exception. Paige O'Toole never got to know her mother, who left when she was just five years old. Brought up by her slightly eccentric inventor father, she craves love and finds it with Jake, a boy older than her who becomes more than the brother he tries to be to her. When Paige gets pregnant she knows she is too young to be a mother and besides, she hopes to go to Art College. After having an abortion her world turns upside down and she leaves home at eighteen with no clear idea of what she will do.
While working in a diner she meets Nicholas Prescott, a medical student who wants to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery. They fall in love quickly and despite his rich parent's objections, the marriage stays strong with Paige working two jobs to put Nicholas through college. Just as he starts to make a name for himself, Paige falls pregnant with Max and the world they have built together is shook to it's foundations as Paige struggles with becoming a mother with a husband who is never there.
Paige runs away, leaving her baby son behind with only the thought that if she can find her own mother it might help her regain her strength, but will it be too late for all the people involved?
***Mending a broken Heart***
The story covers several years in the early life of both Paige and Nicholas, with the chapters headed by the name of the person telling that part of the story. It's a technique that Picoult has perfected and even this early in her writing career it reads beautifully, allowing the reader just enough knowledge of the person's thoughts and feelings. We get to know what happens along with the characters and it's like being inside the story. Even though the time period is shorter towards the middle of the book, we still can't tell whether the ending will be a satisfactory one, with Picoult the story is always as realistic as she can make it.
The author is very strong on character-driven stories, but she never fails to add a twist to the normal boy meets girl, falls in and out of love cliché. Instead she gives us two real people at opposite sides of the social scale, but with similar feelings and some very similar hang-ups that both fail to see. Both want their parent's approval and feel incomplete without it. Add to that the job Nicholas undertakes, trying to repair heart defects and working long hours with Paige trying to cope with a new baby, without any handed-down knowledge of motherhood and the consequences are a foregone conclusion, this marriage will need a miracle to survive.
Nicholas is the son of successful parents, a father who is a self-made man and a mother whose family pedigree is a long and distinguished one. At first I didn't like them and thought it was cruel to stand in the way of a couple so obviously in love. I knew that Paige was probably too young, but she never tells Nicholas about the abortion so she does appear much younger to him and his parents. I found the father, Robert, a cold fish and the mother, Astrid, stuck-up.
Paige's parents were no better. Her father brought her up as well as possible but as a first generation Irish Catholic in America he wasn't always easy for Paige to talk to. May, her mother, is a shadowy figure in Paige's mind she run away because her family weren't enough for her. Paige doesn't see she is going the same way. So I found it easy to identify with both, especially with Paige as a new mother and a child that never lets her sleep, let alone do ordinary things like take a bath, read a book, do one of her drawings which are more than a hobby, they define part of who she is.
At the same time although I wanted to hate Nicholas, I couldn't. Yes, I found him spoilt and he could have helped Paige with Max, instead he blames her for his lack of sleep. This crossfire is something a lot of new parents go through but Nicholas is a heart surgeon and has people's lives literally in his hands. But when he is left holding the baby he discovers things about himself he doesn't like at all. Easy for the reader to see looking in, but life isn't easy and there's yet another hurdle before the book ends.
In some ways I thought the plot was a bit too contrived, but behind every successful person there is bound to be ups and downs. Whether such a career-minded man would allow himself to fall for a young, inexperienced girl not of his social class is another matter. It made the story more interesting and I found the parts of the book where there is interaction with staff and patients to be well written and researched.
As a mother I could only feel real pity for Paige as I was a single parent and my ex-husband never once lifted a finger with our daughter. Divorced at twenty-three I was three years younger than Paige, but had a mum to turn to. I did feel the obvious course of action was to ask for help, but this would have taken away from the story. Would I have abandoned my daughter? I doubt I would even provoked beyond measure, but I had my mother to turn to. Paige should have gone to Nicholas's family, but that would have changed the story.
I enjoyed the book a lot and felt in sympathy with the characters and even surprised by the twists and turns. Even this early in her career Picoult wasn't going to do the obvious and make the ending an easy one. What she did do was make me think about my own actions and whether I was a good mum myself. Since I'm a grandmother now you'd think the question would be unlikely, but at nearly sixty it only goes to show I can respond to a story about people half my age.
So I'm recommending the book with a full five stars. My copy was a library book and the hardback re-release. Written in 1993 and released again in 2010, this book shows the author has a timeless appeal.
With 16 books behind her Jodi Picoult seems to gain confidence with every book and has a fresh approach.
Thanks for reading.
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Summary: The second of Jodi Picoult's books, new release.