Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another Guilty Pleasure

A couple of Augusts ago I told you about a few of my guilty pleasures.  Now I have one more to add to the list:  Jodi Picoult books.   I can't help liking them more than I want to.  In theory, I am opposed to reading any book that one can pick up at a grocery store.  However, there is something about Picoult's books that keeps me coming back, even though it's embarrassing to my inner literary snob.

Picoult books generally follow a formula.  A child does something wrong, or has an illness.  The family is traumatized dealing with it.  A lawyer gets involved.  A doctor gets involved.  There are predictable twists and turns, and the pages keep turning.  I talked about this formula earlier this year when I was wishing that This Beautiful Life  by Helen Schulman had been written by Picoult instead.  Change of Heart is another Picoult formula follower, and another page turner.

In Change of Heart, a woman, June, loses her husband and daughter in a double murder for which a handyman working at her home is convicted and sentenced to death.  Of course, June is pregnant at the time of the murders, and her baby is born with a defective heart.  One of the jurors is so affected by the death sentence that he helped to impose that he becomes a priest.  An ACLU attorney gets involved to challenge the death sentence, but the whole case gets complicated when the convicted killer decides not to fight the death sentence, and that he wants to donate his heart to June's child after his death. 

Did I mention that everyone thinks that the killer is performing miracles and may in fact be The Messiah?  I know, I know, that's too hokey.  But it worked.  Picoult takes the opportunity to inject a religious debate regarding one of my favorite subjects:  How can we take the Bible as the truth, if we don't know who edited it or translated it, or what they chose to omit or change?  She introduces the Gospel of Thomas which didn't make the final cut, and persuades me that I should really be Gnostic instead of Presbyterian.  All that from a book I could have picked up at a 7-11.

Someone who has read Picoult before will know that she doesn't waste words, and that if she is telling you something, it is for a reason.  Sometimes obvious foreshadowing shows that the author is an amateur, but Picoult foreshadows in such a way that the reader can feel smug about figuring out what is coming, and then keep reading to be rewarded for their good guessing.  It is somehow not disappointing to figure out the twists in advance, and in fact, it increases the tension as the reader waits for the characters to catch on.

Change of Heart is a great book, and I'm sure it would be a very quick read.  I listened to it on CD, which took about 15 hours, but that was due to all of the dramatic pauses.  I'm glad that I picked this up at last year's Typical Book Exchange - Thanks Laurie!  Oh, and this is another double-countsie for the challenges since I owned the book to begin with, but then listened to it on CDs that I check out of my library.

Next up on CD:  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  I have already listened to the first disc and I am loving it so far!

Still Reading:  The Muslim Next Door by Sumbul Ali-Karamali

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