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January 11, 2016

Change of Heart

Change of HeartChange of Heart

By: Jodi Picoult

Anyone who asks me about my favorite author will most certainly get the response – “well, have you ever read Jodi Picoult?” Those who have often nod their heads and tell me how much they enjoyed this book or that book; those who have not are immediately walked over to see her selection while I tell them about the book Change of Heart – the first book of hers I ever read, and my favorite book of hers so far.

This book centers around loss in the Nealon family – June and her daughter Elizabeth, June’s new husband/Elizabeth’s policeman stepfather Kurt, and Claire – June and Kurt’s new baby. At the start of the book, Elizabeth and Kurt are murdered in their home – a tragic loss for the community and devastating for June and her unborn baby. Shay Bourne, a freelance carpenter with mental disabilities who was working in the home at the time, is accused of the murders and sentenced to death for the crimes.

During his time in prison, a number of miracles are attributed to Bourne – somewhat like those that are found in the Green Mile, which leaves readers wondering about his character and future. As time creeps towards Bourne’s execution, June finds out that Claire (now 11) needs a heart transplant. Because of her age and condition, she needs a very specific heart – one that, it seems, Shay Bourne, can – and is willing – to supply. While June is deciding if she is able to let go of her hate and bitterness to allow Shay to donate his heart, Shay is fighting the legal system for his right to be executed in a way that will allow his heart to be preserved to help Claire live.

Throughout this book, Picoult tells the story from four different perspectives – June; Maggie, Shay’s ACLU lawyer; Lucius, a convicted murderer in prison; and Michael, a Catholic priest. Through all of these narrators, Picoult explores love and loss, the scope of religion and forgiveness, and the death penalty, and has readers questioning the ideas of death with dignity – even when it is for someone who was convicted of a crime.

I am well aware that Jodi Picoult is not for everyone – she tackles very serious, very tough topics that are rarely light, enjoyable reads. But Picoult is known for being thorough, especially with legal subjects, and is eloquent and tactful in the way she presents the information. Anyone looking to read more of her books may find this one or My Sister’s Keeper to be a great place to start.

Review By: Jessica Diehl