Saturday Read: Change of Heart, by Jodi Picoult

I know, I know. I’m a total book hypocrite. I used to make fun of women who read boatloads of Jodi Picoult and look at me now! This is the 4th. book of hers I’ve reviewed for CC! (“My Sister’s Keeper,” “The Pact,” and “Plain Truth.”) But, I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – she is GREAT for entertaining reading. This woman can write, which probably explains why she is so darn popular.

“Change of Heart” starts out sad. So sad, in fact, that I actually debated even reading it. June’s husband Jack passes away in a car accident and she is left all alone with their two-year-old, Elizabeth. Yes, that is how the book starts.  But I’m not surprised because, after all, I’m reading Jodi Picoult. Begrudgingly, I continued on. June falls in love with the police officer who broke the bad news of Jack’s death to her, Kurt Nealon, and they marry. Then June becomes pregnant. And then Kurt and Elizabeth are murdered by a handyman June hired to help out around the house.

Yes, it does come out of nowhere. And yes, three of the main characters die within the first 25 pages.

When I got to this point, I once again considered putting the book back on my bookshelf for good, but decided that Jodi Picoult would have to revive the story and it was probably worth reading. And luckily, I was right!

The handyman who killed June’s family is suddenly at the forefront of the novel. His name is Shay Bourne and he is definitely simple-minded. He is tried and sentenced, where we meet another character in the novel, Michael. He is on the jury that decides to invoke the rarely-used New Hampshire death penalty sentence and is so upset over the whole ordeal that he joins the seminary and emerges as “Father Michael.”

Now we’ve fast-forwarded the story eleven years, and June’s daughter, Claire, who was a baby at the time of the murders, is in need of a heart transplant. Shay has decided that he wants to donate his heart to Claire, but that complicates things with his execution as the chemicals used to stop his heart would render it useless. Our last character, Maggie, an ACLU attorney, joins the story when she decides to take on Shay’s case.

Now, this would still be a very dramatic novel, but Picoult has added one more element to the story: it seems Shay can perform miracles. Not only that, but some people, including Father Michael, begin questioning whether or not he may be the second coming of Christ.

Okay, it probably seems like I’ve given away the entire novel, but that all unfolds in the first itsy, bisty part. And what comes next is thrilling, fast-paced and impossible to stop reading. Even if parts make you want to cry.

This book was definitely on par with Picoult’s others. A fast-paced legal drama mixed with a heart-wrenching back story tends to be her formula, but it is totally working for her. Like I said, “Change of Heart” and all her other books, are just plain entertaining. They keep you interested and don’t make you feel like you’re doing homework. Reading a Jodi Picoult novel is like watching your favorite TV show: it’s comfortable and familiar, yet still engaging and interesting.

If you’re looking for just a nice, good old fashioned novel (especially for the upcoming holiday weekend!), then “Change of Heart” is a great choice!

Got some free time? Need a good book to take your mind off of class? Check out Alex’s other book reviews!

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