International best selling author, Jodi Picoult has become renowned for asking the hard questions in relation to contemporary American society. In her latest book, Change of Heart, Picoult tackles the death penalty in the United States, using a cast of unforgettable characters to unravel what is essentially a very complex issue.
Of course, no discussion about the death penalty in the United States is complete without delving into the murky waters of organised religion and in regards to this issue, Picoult writes about religion responsibly and intelligently.
In Change of Heart Picoult also revisits the mother/daughter relationship that made Her Sister’s Keeper such an engaging read and an international best seller. The relationship between June Nealon and her daughters, the physically fragile Claire and the enduring spirit of the deceased Elizabeth, is reminiscent of the complex mother and daughter relationship Jodi Picoult explored so brilliantly in her previous work.
One day June Nealon was happily anticipating a lifetime of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart. Now her life is a waiting game. Waiting for time to heal her wounds, waiting for justice. Waiting for a miracle to happen.
For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises. The world has given him nothing, and he has nothing to offer the world. In a heartbeat, though, something happens one day that changes everything for him. Now he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June’s twelve-year-old daughter, Claire. But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes and the rage of a mother who has lost her child.
Although June Nealon and Shay Bourne are promoted as the central characters in Change of Heart, their appearances in the book are more often than not, overshadowed by a cast of unforgettable supportive players: Lucius, the inmate who befriends the quiet and misunderstood Shay Bourne in the state penitentiary. Father Michael, the compassionate priest who experiences a crisis of faith when confronted with the sins of his past. And Maggie, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) lawyer who wants to save the world one case at a time.
The relationship between Maggie and her parents provides some lighter moments in a story that will have some reaching for the Kleenex. Fans of Jodi Picoult’s previous novels will not be disappointed.