Change of Heart is a provoking read which is hard to put down. It gives a rich insight into many topics; including the Catholic Church, Prison, the ideas of justice and salvation and ultimately the dynamics of faith itself.  The narrators of the story are very different people, but their lives all temporarily revolve around Shay Bourne, a convicted murderer on death row. Shay seeks redemption by wanting to donate his heart to the sick child of the woman whose life he destroyed.
The narrators include June Nealon, the mother herself whose daughter and husband Shay Bourne murdered,  a ACLU lawyer who remains deeply unsatisfied with who she is, a Priest whose beliefs are shaken when his past comes back to haunt him and a convicted criminal who Shay winds up in prison with.
It is a touching tale, and feels thoroughly original and refreshing. June is forced to ask whether or not she would take the heart of the man that killed her family to save her child.
The theme of religion is explored when miracles are performed in prison cells, which raises the question of where goodness and supposed holiness are found, and what do we do when our idea of something Godly comes in the package of a man that a jury believed was better off dead?
“Change of Heart” challenges the foundation of religion and redemption, and how quick we are to jump to conclusions because they seem logical, or because we’re so uncertain of everything happening around us. It’s a gripping read, and the final pages will resound with the reader long after they’ve finished the book.
In true Jodi Picoult style, this book is bursting at the seams with highly charged emotions, moral grey areas and characters with a considered depth to their personalities. It is a gruesome tale, as one would expect with a school shooting, and the book is structured using the court trial of the culprit, Peter Houghton, after he commits his crime.
The characters are well developed, including the spectrum of different social groups amongst teenagers at school. The book demonstrates how prepared some are to fight their way to the top, and who they’re willing to sacrifice along the way. There is also the reality from Picoult that the all American cookie-cutter child sometimes harbours dark secrets, which is projected through Josie and Peter’s older brother.
The mourning parents and displays of panic and hysteria are well written, engaging the reader as they follow a situation that has rapidly spiralled out of control, and tracking the consequences that destroy the lives of so many people.
I think that ultimately, this book explores  what it is like to be different, and how a child becomes toxic after being bullied and ostracised. Nineteen minutes is a chilling read, and leaves the question hanging of who is left living with the guilt of a school shooting, because it doesn’t always rest on the shoulders of the culprit.

The Truth Club is certainly not the next classic novel, but an easy, endearing Summer read. Even though the Irish heroine Sally lacks any truly engaging substance to her, the unraveling of the secrets in her family makes the story enjoyable. Arguably, Sally  is juxtaposed by her far more dynamic younger sister, who is very glib and insensitive. 

Of course, her love life is a key storyline, and although it is rather unfortunate and at times monotonous, it can be found quite comical in several chapters. However, Sally’s family and friends are the saving grace of the book, and they ultimately turn the pages. Secondary characters are presented with beautifully drawn descriptions, and the turmoils of Sally’s friends are written with understanding and sympathy. 

The general moral of the story is that honesty is the best policy, and the truth will undoubtedly answer all questions. Of course, this is conveyed using some cheesy prose, but the author does possess the ability to be more subtle, and the more reflective ideas shown by the author remain with the reader longest. 

It’s not an “I-didn’t-see-that-coming!” type of novel (the end is fairly predictable) but the tying of lose ends in a romantic finale is always fairly satisfying.

Hi. I read so many books over Summer and I am looking forward to reviewing them with you!