Thursday, June 12, 2008

So Many Issues To Tackle.....


I have long been a fan of Jodi Picoult. Most I have loved, like My Sister's Keeper and Plain Truth. One I hated, The Tenth Circle. But on a whole, I'm totally enamored with her work. So.....when I saw a new book by Picoult on the shelf, I figured it would make a great addition to my reading list for "The Pub Challenge".


Shay Bourne is the first man on New Hampshire's Death Row for over 69 years. He was convicted 11 years ago of killing a police officer and his 7 year old step-daughter. A jury of his peers found him guilty and sentenced him to die by lethal injection. But now that the execution has been set and Shay has been moved to the I-Tier, "miracles" seem to be following him around. A dead bird is "resurrected", a dying AIDS patient's disease seems to disappear, and a tiny piece of gum seems to be stretched to feed all the inmates of the block. Now, people are lining up outside the prison to see the "Death Row Messiah".

June Nealon knows better than anyone about Shay Bourne. It was her husband and daughter that were killed. She holds an amazing amount of hate towards Shay. But will she be able to get past all that hate to accept a gift from him that could save her OTHER daughter, Claire?

Maggie Bloom is an ACLU attorney that would like nothing better than to do away with the Death Penalty altogether. But in her quest to shed light on this issue, she takes Shay's case about HOW he is going to be executed. As much as she would like to have Shay's case reopened for fear that an innocent man will die, she has to follow her heart and the things Shay is asking her to do.

Father Michael has been called in from St. Katherine's Church to be a spiritual advisor for Shay Bourne. But is Father Michael as interested in saving Shay's soul as he is his own? Because before Father Michael was a priest, he was a college student that sat on the jury that sent Shay to Death Row.

One of the things I love about Picoult's writing is her amazing ability to see all sides of a situation. In this book, she writes from numerous perspectives, so you can see what many of the characters are feeling. And as with all of her previous books, she tackles tough issues. In this one, namely the death penalty. And if she had just stuck with one, it probably would have been a 5 Star review. But instead, she hit on some other topics that kind of muddied the point of view. Reminiscent of The Green Mile with "miracles" performed by an inmate, she also choose to touch on religion, which is another subject all together. Bringing in topics like the Gnostic gospels, while interesting, took away from the main storyline a little.

Don't get me wrong. I still loved the book. And I still cried in the end, as I usually do when I read a Picoult. But I had figured out the "Twist" long before it was actually revealed. And unlike a lot of Picoult's books, this actually left me with questions to ponder, even after the book was finished. No clear cut ending for this one. Still, it was a page-turner and I'm glad I read it. I'd love to hear your opinions, if you read this one yourself!! 4/5

16 comments:

Melody said...

Stephanie, I'm glad you enjoyed this book! It's still sitting in my TBR pile! I'm a Picoult fan myself; I love her writing style and also the way she writes them from different perspectives.

I haven't picked up The Tenth Circle yet, as I've read mixed reviews about this one.

Stephanie said...

Melody - I DID enjoy it. Hard as some of her topics are, Picoult is just such a great writer! Of course, this isn't her best, but it was still good.

I HATED the Tenth Circle. Man. I don't hate a lot of books, but that one just rubbed me the wrong way!

Debi said...

Fabulous review, Stephanie, it seems impossible to believe that I wouldn't love her books, and yet I can't seem to get any of them read. I have actually even picked up a few of them here and there...so tell me, which one of these should I try first? Nineteen Minutes, The Pact, Salem Falls, or My Sister's Keeper? (I actually also have The Tenth Circle. Ordered it from B&N bargain books, but when I got it and read the jacket flap I didn't think it sounded like one for me. So it's going on the prize block for the read-a-thon. And it sounds like I made the right decision there.) Anyway, would any of those others I've got make a good first read?

Bellezza said...

I didn't carefully read your review because I plan to read this myself. I've only read Picoult's My Sister's Keepr before; I suspect all her books are quite heavy emotionally. When I finish Change of Heart I'll come back and comment more lucidly, and I'd like to link you to my review post of it.

Ladytink_534 said...

Oh Jodi Picoult always depresses me. She writes beautifully but her topics are sometimes a little hard to read about (The Tenth Circle didn't impress me either). I've heard some horrible reviews on this book but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

____Maggie said...

Her books turn out to be great discussion books, too. We will be doing 19 Minutes in the fall at our college!

Just stopped by to let you know the Sense of Place Contest is ready for entries! Good Luck if you choose to participate! :)

Stephanie said...

Debi - Thanks! My two favorite Picoult's are My Sister's Keeper and Plain Truth. I also thought Nineteen Minutes was really good. You should probably start with My Sister's Keeper. I think it will make a big Picoult fan!!

Bellezza - You are right. All of Picoult's books have that emotional tug. This one is good, not her best. I'm anxious to see what you think of it!

Tink - Yep...some of her books ARE depressing, but her writing is just so good. Have you read Mercy? Very good.

Maggie - Nineteen Minutes was a great book!! And I know ALL her books make such good discussion. My bookclub was discussing My Sister's Keeper and we had some questions about why she wrote what she did, so I emailed her. Jodi wrote me back right away! So cool!

Trish said...

I'm going to have to wait to read your review, but I'm definitely coming back. I bought the book after it came out, but I just can't bring myself to read it yet. I greatly disliked Tenth Circle as well! Bleh!

Teddy Rose said...

Great review Stephanie! I have this on my TBR and I am going to be reading 'My Sister's Keeper' for some challenges this summer or fall. I haven't read anything by Picoult yet.

jpderosnay said...

i really like the miracle angle - and even though its of course similar to "the green mile" it sounds sufficiently different.

i've always been quite curious about picoult, but have never actually read her...

Ladytink_534 said...

No, I don't think I have:(

Iliana said...

One of these days I will have to read another Picoult book. I've only read My Sister's Keeper which I was a bit conflicted about - I didn't like the ending but I did like the way she seemed to analyze a situation from different characters' viewpoints.

Dar said...

Great review Stephanie. I read this one a few months ago and agree it wasn't one of her best but still good and worth reading. I think it jumped on too many things at once and should have stayed more focused. I'd have to say my favorites of hers are still My Sister's Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, Plain Truth, The Pact...She's an awesome author and I can't wait to see what issue she will tackle next.

Carl V. said...

Sorry it wasn't quite a 5 but it does sound like you had a good experience reading it and still enjoyed it quite a bit.

sassymonkey said...

I've read two of her books (neither of which is this one) and I found that after reading one of them you kind of pick up on how she's going to twist it. Or at least you will in such a way that it's not a total surprise to you.

She picks great topics and deals with them very well though. She's great at making you think.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I didn't care for The Tenth Circle all that much either. I read this one and thought that it was just okay. I wasn't sure if I'd keep reading her or not but I really want to read My Sister's Keeper.