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Change of Heart: A Novel (Wsp Readers Club) Paperback – December 2, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 461 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. 1,000,000-million copy first printing.(Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Picoult is a rare writer who delivers book after book, a winning combination of the literary and the commercial." -- Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • Series: Wsp Readers Club
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (December 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743496752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743496759
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (461 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. After hearing Jodi speak at the National Book Conference last September, and from being a fan for many years, I'd been waiting anxiously for March 4th to come around, and so was beyond thrilled last month when my boss at the bookstore where I worked parttime (not a Jodi fan herself) snuck an ARC in my mailbox before anyone else saw it.

If you know and love Jodi's books, you know that they follow a formula, and you're ok with that. They all center around a legal/ethical/social/medical issue that's come to a head; typically have at least one sassy yet insecure single female in an investigative/advisory role (who frequently finds love by the end of the story), and all end with a twist. This twist leaves the reader in one of any number of states - lost in thought, changed on a certain issue, outraged at society, or drowning in a pool of tears. (Almost literally on that last one - in fact, when My Sister's Keeper came out in bookstores, one promotion included a pack of kleenex with every sale; also, Jodi told the story at the NBF about how her daughter, upon finishing the book, stormed upstairs, slammed her bedroom door, and would not speak to her for the rest of the day). For Jodi's fans, this formula works, though reading a number in a row (as I did when I first discovered her 6 years ago) can become tiresome (I took a long break after that, and in fact skipped the two books between My Sister's Keeper and Nineteen Minutes - 2 of my three favorites, along w/ Plain Truth).

So having a background in bioethics, and being fascinated by criminology, I eagerly awaited this book and had the high hopes that I'd count it among my favorites. But this book, though gripping, made me roll my eyes WAY too often.
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Format: Hardcover
Jodi Picoult's fifteenth novel is set around an angel-like death row inmate with a profound desire to donate his heart to the sister of his victim. The challenge? Lethal injection would render the organ useless. The inmate starts performing miracles from prison (turning water into wine, reviving a dead pet, healing terminal illness) and media quickly labels him the next Messiah. Admirers start congregating outside the prison campus. A national dialog opens, and the mother of a dying child must ask herself if she can put away her hatred to accept the donated heart of her deceased child's killer.

Change of Heart, like other Jodi Picoult novels, is told in brief chapters from over a dozen points of view. She tackles a new moral dilemma - the death penalty - complete with a true crime shock factor, courtroom drama, tension-filled romance, and an incredible twist at the end. Picoult has done her research and also introduces the Gnostic texts - namely the Gospel of Thomas, disregarded as the Church as heresy when it was discovered and published in 1975 - as a key plot element. The work comprises 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Picoult artfully portrays her death row inmate, Shay Bourne, as a man eerily similar to that described in the Gospel of Thomas.

Picoult succeeds at creating a general outline of Shay Bourne as a religious figure via a number of inventive modern-day twists on New Testament writings. Once she created the setting of a religious novel, however, she used miracles to escape plot holes willy nilly. How does the heart of a 30 year-old man possibly match that of a teen girl? Oh, it's a miracle. The same priest who convicted Shay as a jury member is assigned as his spiritual advisor? Miraculous coincidence.
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Format: Hardcover
I first became a fan of Picoult's after reading My Sister's Keeper on a friend's recommendation 3 years ago. Like most, I cried my eyes out reading the last 30 or so pages of the book and was hooked after that point. I've since read most of Picoult's 15-book library, most recently this book, Change of Heart. While I was excited for a new book of hers, I still haven't found another one that moved me like My Sister's Keeper yet. From reading the book jacket, I was hoping this one would come close. Unfortunately, it didn't even compare. While the story was told in the same manner as My Sister's Keeper (each "chapter" was a different character's voice) and made it a quick read (460 pages that I finished over the course of a weekend), it was much too predictable. I guessed what the "twist" in the plot was about 25 pages into the book (and my guess was confirmed around page 400) and found it so closely mirroring the storyline of Stephen King's "The Green Mile" that I was almost embarrassed for Picoult's lack of originality). While this book's main character is supposedly a Messiah and King's death row inmate was just supposed to be supernatural, without any sort of religious affiliation, the similarities will be clearly apparent to anyone that's seen the movie or read the book (one of the glaring similarities includes bringing a fellow inmate's dead pet back to life; a bird in this book, a mouse in King's). Despite these things, I still couldn't put the book down since it was such a quick and easy read, it was entertaining enough, and Picoult is an extremely gifted writer, even if her originality is lacking.Read more ›
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