Friday, September 26, 2008
Change of Heart
Title: Change of Heart
Author: Jodi Picoult
Date Finished: September 24, 2008
This was my first Jodi Picoult book, after hearing such raves from my friends about her writing. I have to admit, I was very impressed. I was skimming through the new books at the library and happened upon it, so I figured it was a good place to start. This book deals with religion, death row, protection and the grey area between the lines in life. Jodi Picoult does a great job dealing with such a controversial issue, religion, and does not press or support one religion over another. I found myself doing quite a bit of life reflection after reading this book, and enjoyed thinking through some of the issues she presented.
The book opens with one of the main characters, June, tragically losing her husband. She is left behind with a daughter to raise, Elizabeth, and actually ends up falling in love with the police officer who was at the scene of her husbands death. They in turn get married, and while she is pregnant, she comes home to find that the carpenter she hired to finish adding a room on for the nursery, Shay Bourne, has killed both her second husband and her daughter. To make matters worse, her daughters underwear was found in the Shay's pocket. At the trial he is sentenced to death by lethal injection, which is the first case in quite some time in this town.
To complicate matters even more, Clair, June's second daughter, is in dire need of a heart transplant. Shay who exhibits Messiah like qualities wants to donate his heart, but only if it will go to Clair. June is furious when she hears this and will not allow that man's heart to be placed into her only surviving child. Enter two other main characters, Father Michael, who becomes Shay's spiritual advisor, and Maggie Bloom, who is a lawyer for ACLU and is trying to change Shay's method of death to be hanging instead of lethal injection so that his heart can be donated. Father Michael has a secret that he is too scared to share with Shay and Maggie for fear that it could drastically effect his credibility with the court.
Upon entering I-tier, the only place to keep a death row inmate, Shay exhibits Messiah like qualities by turning the water into wine, healing a pet bird of one of the inmates, distributing gum to each of the other I-tier occupants while only having one piece, apparently curing his cell neighbor of AIDS, and quoting scripture from a Gnostic book the Gospel of Thomas. As news travels of the supposed miracles of I-tier, people travel from all over with their sick, dying, blind, etc... loved ones and line up outside the prison in hopes of having them healed by Shay. This creates quite a ruckus, and those who are opposed line up with signs and protests as well.
June is faced with the ultimate decision. Does she lose her only surviving child by rejecting the heart of the man who took her family from her, or does she take the heart and save her child? As the story unfolds, you get caught up in the drama and action in each of the characters lives and find yourself holding your breath in anticipation of what will happen next.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will be sure to pick up another Jodi Picoult book in the future. There were many plot turns in this book that kept you on your toes anticipating which direction the story would take. There were some things that I figured may happen, but for the most part, I was happily surprised by the outcomes. I would highly recommend this book if you have not yet had the chance to read it.