Change of Heart

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

A convicted murderer on death row who may be a latter-day Messiah wants to donate his heart to the sister of one of his victims in Jodi Picoult’s Change of Heart. PHEW!

Anyone who has read more than one Jodi knows the formula: a researched hot-topic of focus, courtroom drama, someone with a life-threatening illness, twist ending. In this case it was the death penalty and religion, an ACLU lawyer defending a murderer who wants to choose the way he dies, an eleven-year-old girl who is dying of a heart condition, and a twist ending, respectively.

All in all, I found Change of Heart pretty ridiculous. Shay Bourne is a thirty-three-year-old carpenter drifter (okay, really?!) who was convicted of murdering the police officer husband of his employer, June, and her seven-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Eleven years later, Shay is still awaiting execution by lethal injection. His dying wish is to donate his heart to June’s second daughter, Claire, who is dying from a heart condition. While waiting to be executed, miracles start happening on his cell block – a resurrected bird, water turning into wine, etc. The parallels with Shay’s character to Jesus were so obvious I that I was laughing out loud; I would have appreciated perhaps a more believable subtlety. Other unbelievable things: the fact that the heart of a thirty-three-year-old man is somehow a perfect match for an eleven-year-old girl, and a priest who drives a motorcycle and talks about “hot chicks” with Shay.

There were long-winded dissertations on comparative religions where my eyes glazed over, and I was disappointed that I saw the plot twist coming from almost the very beginning, because usually Jodi is pretty good at surprising me. Still, it kept my attention and interest for the most part. Overall, it was entertaining for its absurdity but certainly not one of my favorites.

-M

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