Monday, March 14, 2011
Change Of Heart
Washington Square Press
Book Club Choice
Amazon Blurb -
Picoult bangs out another ripped-from-the-zeitgeist winner, this time examining a condemned inmate's desire to be an organ donor. Freelance carpenter Shay Bourne was sentenced to death for killing a little girl, Elizabeth Nealon, and her cop stepfather. Eleven years after the murders, Elizabeth's sister, Claire, needs a heart transplant, and Shay volunteers, which complicates the state's execution plans. Meanwhile, death row has been the scene of some odd events since Shay's arrival—an AIDS victim goes into remission, an inmate's pet bird dies and is brought back to life, wine flows from the water faucets. The author brings other compelling elements to an already complex plot line: the priest who serves as Shay's spiritual adviser was on the jury that sentenced him; Shay's ACLU representative, Maggie Bloom, balances her professional moxie with her negative self-image and difficult relationship with her mother. Picoult moves the story along with lively debates about prisoner rights and religion, while plumbing the depths of mother-daughter relationships and examining the literal and metaphorical meanings of having heart. The point-of-view switches are abrupt, but this is a small flaw in an impressive book.
You can keep your daughter alive, but only if she hosts the heart of the person you hate most in this world. Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love?
These are the thoughts of June Nealon, the mother of Claire who needs a heart transplant. June has suffered the loss no parent should ever have to deal with, the death of her first child Elizabeth. Now the killer, Shay Bourne and on death row, wants to give his heart to her second daughter after he is executed. What do you do?
While traveling down this prickly path we meet Father Michael who, eleven years earlier was on the jury that sentenced Shay to death and is now his spiritual adviser. Lucius DuFresne is in the cell next to Shay. Lucius was a Professor of art before prison. He is a convicted murderer of his boyfriend who he caught cheating on him, and also suffers and is dying from aids. Maggie Bloom the ACLU attorney who is going to help Shay with having his heart donated. The story is told by these four people and the text type is different for each one. That was a nice touch.
Odd miracles start occurring and the thought is Shay is behind them. A crowd is now forming outside the prison and the whole situation is turning into a circus. Maggie is trying to fight for Shay to be hung instead of lethal injection since that will render his heart useless. Fr. Mike is trying to convince June to accept this gift, Lucius is trying to deal with what is happening on their cell block.
I really liked this book a lot. While describing it to my hubby during dinner he and my older son said, "Ya know you're describing the Green Mile with Tom Hanks", then my son went on to ask why Stephen King hasn't sued Picoult over this :p. Well, yes, the similarities between Green Mile and Change of Heart are quite striking, but that didn't change my feelings on this book. I was gripped by the subject, hurting so for June Nealon and trying to understand the other characters dilemma's. Sometimes I got angry, other times I was sad. I don't want to give to much away, but this was a great book.
I have now read two of her books, the other being Nineteen Minutes, which was also excellent and it is classic Picoult taking contemporary subjects that provoke such strong debate and feelings and putting it into a book.