Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jodi Picoult - Change of Heart

Jodi Picoult is like a machine, churning out book after book. While there have been some misses, her books are always high-quality reads, even those that don't quite make the mark. With Change of Heart, Picoult has produced yet another gripping read. I started reading this on my flight back to Melbourne from Hobart and I simply couldn't put it down until I finished it. That said, the book is not without its flaws.

The part about Shay as the miracle healer is too similar to The Green Mile for my liking. At least Picoult makes reference to it with one of the inmates calling him that in the book, but there still isn't enough variation from the original. Maggie is a bit of a cliché as an insecure plus-sized woman who has a difficult relationship with her exacting mother, down to the relationship she develops with the gorgeous British doctor who loves her the way she is: good appetite, curves and all. Surprisingly, the chapters on June and Claire are fairly slim, and as a reader, I would have liked more on them. The twist about Kurt was predictable right from the very beginning so it wasn't really a huge shock. The way Picoult ended the book also annoyed me a little. The items that Shay passed to Michael appeared to debunk the notion of Shay possessing any supernatural abilities, but in the epilogue with Claire, it was then suggested otherwise. Only a slight issue, but I'm the type of reader that likes things definite and I'm usually not a fan of the maybe-maybe not situations.

Even with these shortcomings, I still think this is a remarkable read and Picoult is truly a brilliant storyteller, weaving together a tale from the different viewpoints of all the characters. She covers difficult issues in this book, from religion to capital punishment, and while she may not have pulled it off perfectly, I think she handled them with a delicate touch and was successful in the end. Picoult has certainly provided food for thought with these challenging issues, and I'm sure there will be healthy discussions among readers at book club gatherings out there. It may not be the best that Picoult has ever written (My Sister's Keeper still retains that honour for me) but it's still an impressive effort and sits among my favourites by Jodi Picoult.