Change of Heart
Atria, Mar 2008, $26.95
Her spouse drove the vehicle with his wife June and their daughter Elizabeth inside when they were blindsided by a drunken driver; her husband died in the crash. Kurt Nealson, the police officer who pulled the two females out of the wreckage, became a frequent visitor of the widow and her offspring and eventually he and June married. Seven moths pregnant June hires carpenter Shay Bourne to make some needed home repairs. He kills her second husband and Elizabeth. At his trial, he is convicted and sentenced to state execution, but never explains why he committed the homicides.
Eleven years later Shay is on death row about to die as his appeals have run out. June’s daughter Claire needs a heart transplant and Shay offers his as their hearts are compatible. On the day he arrives in Concord in the 1-tier Secure Housing Unit strange things happen to those around him. He brings a bird back to life and a man with AIDS is miraculously healed while a piece of bubblegum turns out to be enough for every inmate.
His lawyer, who opposes the death penalty, works overtime to get Shay’s conviction changed so that they can use his heart. Crowds gather outside the prison wondering outside if the Messiah has returned and if so why inside a murderer.
Every book that Jodi Picoult writes seems to reach her audience on a primal level. There are things readers do not know about the homicides especially why Shay committed them or if he is a healer or a con artist. Readers want to believe he is the Messiah because there is something compelling about him in which those who know him insist he is not evil. The author evokes strong emotions and opinions from her fans as much as those displayed by Shay’s lawyer, June and Claire.