Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Reviews: Jodi Picoult

This is kind of a mass book review today. Been in a Jodi Picoult stint lately, first with Picture Perfect and then with Change of Heart. Other Picoult novels I’ve greatly enjoyed are the Tenth Circle, Nineteen Minutes, and, surprisingly, Songs of the Humpback Whale. The conflicting narratives and jumps in time are confusing in the latter, but it’s a great read all the same. Change of Heart had more religion than I generally like in my books, but, as Great Uncle Will used to say when the traveling soapbox preachers came to town in the summer, I need to get my religion warmed up.

Picture Perfect combines Hollywood, anthropology, Native American issues and religion, and spousal abuse to dazzling efficiency. A woman is found in a graveyard by Will Flying Horse, a Native American cop, and from then on, their futures are linked. The woman is renowned anthropologist Cassie Barrett, wife of Hollywood star Alex Rivers. Their life was a fairy tale until it wasn’t, when Alex’s dark past rose up to haunt them both. Cassie finds her freedom through the help of Will and in the face of an old friend and guardian angel, answering the questions: how can she leave? but how can she stay?

Change of Heart concerns June Nealon, a woman who loses two husbands, one daughter, and stands on the verge of losing another if her second daughter doesn’t receive a heart before her own gives way. A perfect match for a heart still beats in the chest of Shay Bourne, a death row inmate, and the man who convicted of murdering June’s second husband and daughter. But as miracles begin to erupt on death row, the shy carpenter will set law and religion reeling before everything is said and done.

Like I said, loving Jodi Picoult, along with a ton of other people. The Tenth Circle is my fav, probably because of Dante’s Inferno. If nothing else, the comic pictures throughout the book are well worth it. And the father-daughter relationship is superb. In this story, a girl crying rapes sets a small town on its head and redemption only comes through a wild trip into the Alaskan wilderness, deep into Inuit culture. Gotta love how Picoult makes such unusual elements jive to such great effect. Still waiting to get to The Pact. Maybe this weekend... :-)