Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review of Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

“America’s the only first world country that still uses capital punishment,” Ms. Picoult exclaims on her website and repeats in this powerful book. Exploring the death penalty, religion, and spirituality, she tells a story constantly questioning and always pushing at the boundaries of our beliefs. 

Shay (Isaiah M.) Bourne, New Hampshire’s first death row prisoner in 69 years, is the impetus for these questions. In his trial, he is represented by a charlatan and is sentenced to death. While in prison, he heals the sick, turns water into wine, and speaks with a prophetic grace.

Father Michael Wright answers the call for spiritual help. But Father Michael has a secret that affects his ministry to Shay--a secret tormenting the Father and begging to be told. In the end, he wonders who is ministering to whom.

Maggie Bloom is a lawyer for the ACLU. Her causes are those of the hopeless. When she learns of Shay’s request to donate his heart to the victim’s family, she takes on the challenge of changing the death venue to make that possible. After all, everyone deserves to practice their own religion, don’t they?

June Nealon is torn apart by the events that have shaped her life. Her first husband was killed in a vehicle accident, though her daughter, Elizabeth, was spared. Then, after she married again, her new husband, Kurt, and Elizabeth were killed. Tormenting her is the fact that she hired the accused killer, Shay, to change their spare bedroom into a nursery for the baby inside her.

Claire Nealon is ten years old now. She has lived with heart disease most of her life, but her heart is giving out. There is the possibility of a heart donor. . .

Ms. Picoult delves deep into the bowels of the prison system and what we consider justice. She takes the basic concepts of our beliefs and lays them on the table to be dissected and explored. Forever a master of words, Ms. Picoult weaves the title in and out of the story so seamlessly, you find yourself reviewing the book to discover all the ways you can have . . . a change of heart.

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