Sunday, April 13, 2008

Change of Heart

Title: Change of Heart
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Allen and Unwin

It is almost impossible to walk past a bookstore or airport gift shop without seeing a Jodi Picoult novel. So phenomenally successful is the New York native that the first edition print run of her new novel Change of Heart was one million copies and debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Picoult sticks to her winning formula of moral dilemma meets legal question in this, her 15th novel.

Change of Heart sees Shay Bourne on death row for the murder of a five year old girl and her police officer step-father. Shay sees a chance to redeem himself when the young victim’s sister needs a heart transplant. Problem is the State of New Hampshire intends to execute Shay via lethal injection which would render his organs unviable. And when miracles begin occurring at the prison, the resultant media storm asks the question could this convicted double killer be the second coming of Christ?

The book is told from four points of view. Maggie, the lawyer assigned to Shay’s case, June, the mother who lost her daughter and husband to the murder and the mom of the girl needing the transplant, Father Michael, Shay's Roman Catholic Priest who also happened to be on the jury which convicted him, and Lucuis who occupies the cell next to Shay.

The novel suffers at times both from a lack of strong editing (which was also apparent in some of her previous books) and some moments that smack of unoriginality - bordering on plagiarism. Stephen King’s epic story The Green Mile is gloriously ripped off, in particular a scene where one of the inmates has a baby bird brought back to life after being killed by a guard. Maybe Picoult considered it homage to one of America’s most prolific and popular authors; I considered it lazy and unimaginative.

It also takes some time to get used to the jumps in point of view which coincide with changes of font for each of the narrators but once you get passed this, it is exactly what you expect from a Jodi Picoult novel: slightly formulaic but ultimately gritty, emotionally charged and thoroughly compelling.


As an will be pleased to know that the next Jodi Picoult novel has already been announced. The tentatively titled “Handle with Care” is due for release in 2009.

First published in Nexus Magazine, Issue 5, 7 April 2008. Reproduced with kind permission.


J9 said...

As you know I will definitely bypass Jodi Picoult. I can't wait to find out how OJ would have "done it". Fascinating or just plain stupid. For both reasons it could be an interesting read.

her said...

I haven't read the Green Mile, so I didn't know she ripped off that baby-bird-dead-but-omg-alive scene...

Kelly said...

Sarah - Yup in The Green Mile it's a wonderful little mouse called Mr. Jingles who is deliberately killed by a nasty guard instead of a baby bird called Batman the Robin accidently killed by a guard doing a pod search.

I think in that scene Picoult even has one of the inmates refer to Shay as "Green Mile" which is a slang term for Death Row.