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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Review

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
Paperback: 496 pages Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (22 Jan 2009)
ISBN-10: 0340935839
ISBN-13: 978-0340935835

Charlotte Francis

‘Change of Heart’ is Jodi Picoult’s second novel to debut at number one on the highly prestigious New York Times bestseller list, and deservedly so. A book based around a mother’s moral dilemma is of course, with Jodi Picoult, not quite as black and white as it seems.

The American based tale gives each character a narrative voice in a chapter by chapter account of a sick murder and its lengthy consequences.

One moment a pregnant June Nealon was a happy wife and mother of one, with a second child on its way. Yet the next moment she was cruelly robbed of both privileges. In her final stages of pregnancy with her second daughter, June had to endure this murdering ordeal with the only consolation being that the man responsible was found guilty, and sentenced to death by lethal injection. June had no idea that later on this decision was to be her call.

Father Michael, originally a member of that double homicide trial jury, ironically landed the job as Shay Bourne’s, the convicted murderer, spiritual advisor. Father Michael, Shay’s lawyer Maggie, Shay’s fellow inmates, along with half of America’s media press however; began to notice some unusual events occurring around Arizona’s first death row prisoner in sixty nine years. These well researched and cleverly written events even forced Father Michael to question his faith. These events help Shay appear likeable, which in the circumstances seems hard to believe, and we begin to wonder if everything is really as it seems.

The story of Shay Bourne, a thirty three year old carpenter turned convicted murderer, nicknamed by the press as "The death row Messiah", shows how a unique man seeks his redemption, and unusually without the longing to be exonerated.

Eleven years on since the murder and with Shay still locked away in prison, June had successfully given birth to second daughter, Claire. As Claire hits pre-school however; June discovers that her run of bad luck has not let up, with Claire being diagnosed with a heart defect. With all the subtlety of a pneumatic drill, you can begin to see how Shay tries to make up for his wrongs.

After having already suffered a fate worse than death eleven years previous, June Nealon now faces the prospect of seeking help from the one man she wishes dead, or she risks going through losing a daughter all over again.
"Your daughter needs a new heart, the only match comes from a murderer, what would you do?"
© Charlotte Francis Oct 2009
charlottefrancis205 at

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