Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; Later printing edition (22 Jan. 2009)
One moment June Nealon was happily looking forward to years full of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart. Now her life is a waiting game. Waiting for time to heal her wounds, waiting for justice. In short, waiting for a miracle to happen.
For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises. The world has given him nothing, and he has nothing to offer the world. In a heartbeat, though, something happens that changes everything for him. Now, he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June's eleven-year-old daughter, Claire. But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes, and the rage of a mother who has lost her child.
Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish?
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Being a huge Picoult fan, this book has been on my to-read list for faaaaarrrrr too long without me having picked it up. But thanks to the sale at The Works, I got my hands on a copy and finished it just the other night. I’ve also reviewed her other books, such as my absolute favourite, Keeping Faith, which can be found here.
The premise to this book intrigued me immensely and it sounded like the kind of story that’s going to push the boundaries of forgiveness and acceptance. And I was right. I’ve also been notified to the fact that this is a ripoff of Stephen Kings novel, The Green Mile (which I’m also in the process of reading just to compare) - however I didn’t know this at the time of starting Change of Heart. I may or may not add some extra thoughts into this review later on once I finish The Green Mile.
HENEWAAAAY. On to the review we go, otherwise my babble will never subside.
I feel like this scenario from the book, would be every mother’s worst nightmare (notwithstanding spaghetti stains on white walls). Imagine that after having your daughter and husband murdered, and with an ill child left as your only salvation - the heart she so very much needs - is being offered by the man that took everything from you in the first place. What takes precedence, priorities or pride?
Picoult spins this tale in the best way she knows how, by slowly revealing each part of the story for you - entrancing you, drawing you in. Is there a surprise? Of course there is, and somehow I kinda saw it coming a mile off (pun kinda intended). While I didn’t find this story to be as engaging as some of Picoult’s other work, it was still good and deserved a read.
As always, some serious questions are raised about morals, actions, beliefs. I was expecting this to be a story about choices, Shay’s, June’s mostly - but what was a pleasant surprise to me was the inclusion of belief and religion. I personally love the religion aspect that was in Keeping Faith, especially, and found myself surprised in the best of ways to see it in Change of Heart. We deal in this story with Christianity, Judaism, Atheism - the existence of God and without Him. It’s not as intense, but it sure does make you wonder, regardless of personal belief, about “higher power.”
Here comes to mind a phrase I heard in a documentary - ““One cannot presume that the inability to explain something automatically makes it miraculous.”
I’m coming to realise that a lot of my reviews on Picoult’s books break off into a tangent and discussion rather than following through the plot of a story - but in essence that’s what her books do to you. They make you ask questions and change your own answers - which is something I will always love about her books.
Having said that, there are areas of Change of Heart that I didn’t particularly love as much - for example the loophole through which Shay was able to donate his heart, the religious grounds which his lawyer found for him, felt extremely fake to me - I mean yeah sure I know without this loophole and argument the donation wouldn’t have been possible - but it also brings into light how selectively choosing aspects of a religion can be an issue. In the end this part just didn’t sit right with me, that’s all.
I will have to apologise that I am writing this review several weeks after having read the book and parts I wanted to comment on have actually escaped my mine - but I do remember that whilst I did enjoy this book, it failed to hit the top bar of my favourites and I felt like this could have been improved in many areas to become as hard hitting as some of her other books that I adore. This just didn’t hit the spot a Picoult book should, even though the ingredients were there.
Worth a read even then, and I’ll leave you readers with a quote that resonated with me in terms of faith.
“..There are all sorts of experiences that we can't really put a name to. The birth of a child, for one. Or the death of a parent. Falling in love. Words are like nets - we hope they'll cover what we mean, but we know they can't possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder. Finding God is like that, too. If it's happened to you, you know what it feels like. But try to describe it to someone else - and language only takes you so far."