Jodi Picoult - Change of Heart

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If a murderer offered to save your daughter's life, would you accept?

Dec 20, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:fast and easy read, interesting story, many different viewpoints

Cons:plot is a Stephen King rip-off, big ending shocker is obvious

The Bottom Line:

Jodi Picoult's Change of Heart is a copycat story.  It is fine to read if you know nothing about The Green Mile.  Otherwise, AVOID!


I've read several Jodi Picoult novels over the years and have had very mixed feelings about them.  One or two (including My Sister's Keeper) are fantastic, several are just okay, and a few are downright horrible.  I don't buy them or borrow them from the library any longer, but my sister passes along to me any new Picoult paperbacks that she buys and reads.  
 
When I first read the back cover blurb for this book, I had no idea where this story was going.  The publishers very cleverly disguised the plot as a brand-new one with their presentation of the main characters and their moral dilemmas.  After a couple of chapters, though, I realized that I had read this story before...

About This Story

Change of Heart
starts off by sharing June Nealon's story: she hired a vagabond carpenter (Shay Bourne) to build an addition (for a new baby) onto her house and he eventually shoots and kills both her husband and her 7 year old daughter.  Shay has decided that the way to make amends for what has happened in the past is to donate his heart to June Nealon's daugher, Claire, who is in heart failure.  Father Michael is another character who served on the jury that sentenced Shay to death... of course this was before he became a priest who decided to try to save his soul.  Maggie Bloom is simply an ACLU attorney who has no connection to the people involved with the case, but is looking for a way to highlight the cruelty of the death penalty. 

It may sound like I'm giving away the whole plot, but I'm not.  All of these facts are established in the first couple of chapters of the book.  Change of Heart really takes off when Shay Bourne is transferred to the prison in which he is going to be executed.  Some things are predictable, some things are unexpected, and some things are downright incredible and unbelieveable.  Many people start to believe that he is the Messiah.

My Opinion

If I had never read Stephen King's The Green Mile, I probably would have been completely mesmerized and amazed by Change of Heart.  Unfortunately, the whole story felt like it was recycled except for the organ donation issue.  Seriously, I could list point by point several characters and episodes involving them that match up exactly with The Green Mile.  Yes, this book is interesting enough on its own... it was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages even thought I had worked out what the "big twist" was going to be 1/4 of the way into the book.  Still, I believe that Jodi Picoult's Change of Heart is a huge rip-off of The Green Mile and, frankly, I'm shocked that her publishers would agree to print such an extremely similar story. 

Overall Opinion

Random people who pick up this book will enjoy it.  Die-hard fans of Jodi Picoult will love it.  People who have read or seen The Green Mile, however, will be a bit confused, surprised, and unimpressed at how a book with almost the same plot could be published. 


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