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'Change of Heart' by Jodi Picoult - Book Review

'Change of Heart' by Jodi Picoult was first published by Atria in March 2008

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

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'Change of Heart' by Jodi Picoult

'Change of Heart' - Courtesy Atria

Brief Plot Summary

June Nealon’s daughter needs a heart transplant, and the man on death row for killing the rest of her family wants to donate his. Can June accept his heart? Picoult writes 400+ pages about how this decision affects several characters in Change of Heart.

Four Reasons I Do Not Recommend 'Change of Heart'

1. It is Emotionally Manipulative

June Nealon’s car is hit by a drunk driver, killing her husband. Eventually, she remarries and is expecting a baby with her new husband. Unfortunately, the person they hire to help construct the nursery kills her new husband and four-year-old daughter. Afraid I’ve given too much away? Don’t worry, that’s just what happens in the first ten pages.

Picoult knows how to grip readers and tug at your heartstrings. The thing is, I don’t like made-for-TV movies that are ridiculously sad and were obviously written to give women an excuse for having a good cry. That’s what Change of Heart felt like.

2. Too Much Rehashing, Too Little Real Development

Picoult’s style is to switch viewpoints (and fonts) from chapter to chapter. The variety of voices keeps her books moving even when there isn’t 400+ pages of plot. While I was reading, it was easy to keep going, which is a plus. On the other hand, I never really wondered what was going to happen after I put the book down because the reality was that there was not much plot development, just a lot of soul-searching characters working through the inevitable.

3. The Characters are Caricatures

For a book that relies so heavily on voice to keep the pages turning, the characters were surprisingly unlikable and under-developed.

4. The Information about the Gnostic Gospels is Misleading

Though Picoult writes fiction, it is no secret that she chooses controversial topics that make people ask hard questions. She acknowledges researching her topics before writing, so when the characters in her novels who are “experts” rant about this or that, I expect their arguments to be a credible representation of a certain viewpoint.

In Change of Heart, Picoult’s characters encounter the Gospel of Thomas, one of the “Gnostic gospels” that is not included in the Bible. One character, a priest, has his faith shaken when he realizes there is a fifth “gospel that hadn’t made it into the Bible but was equally as ancient” (220). This is one of many places where information about the Gnostic gospels is misleading. The scholarly consensus is that the four gospels that are included in the Bible were written between 70 and 100 AD, and that the Gospel of Thomas was written no earlier than 175 AD. Although that may sound “equally ancient,” if you think about it in modern terms, it becomes clear that someone who wrote a firsthand account of the Civil War 40 years after it happened would have much more credibility than someone claiming to write a firsthand account today.

While I think a plot that encourages readers to question the basis of their religious beliefs is an excellent idea, it angered me that Picoult built this plot by having the characters who were religious experts make inaccurate and misleading statements about church history.

The Bottom Line

I didn’t like Change of Heart, but I still thought it was a page turner. Picoult knows how to write emotionally gripping books that are quick reads. If you are a member of the Pi-Cult (her fan club), you will probably enjoy Change of Heart. If not, I wouldn’t read it.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
Change of Heart, Member hurri130

Because I am like a terrier with a bone I will get through this book. My husband and I were listening to it on CD. He quit listening after the 2nd CD. I feel as though I am dragging my feet through gooey mud. I started telling my husband what was going on in this story and he said (he is the son of a minister) that it sounds made up to him. I looked up the Gnostic beliefs and then read some of the other reviews of this book and I agree she has her information screwed up. The characters are shallow. When the priest goes and visits the atheist and asks him about the Book of Thomas things just get to muddled. Almost every character is of a different religion and she has to put their opinions and beliefs in the book. I am finding this story tiring. The main reason I am going to finish it, because, all the the Jodi Picoult books that I have read all have a strange twist at the ending. I am not one to skip the book and the the ending. I feel as though the author is on her soapbox about a personal belief and she is not quite getting her message across.

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