Change of Heart

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am

Change of Heart

by Jodi Picoult

Hodder & Stoughton, HK$108

Jodi Picoult specialises in 'what if' stories. What if a schoolboy shoots his fellow students (Nineteen Minutes)? What if a teenaged girl was conceived purely to provide bone marrow for her sister (My Sister's Keeper)? Picoult's real skill is placing the reader at the heart of these conundrums. The 'what if' at the heart of Picoult's latest is, spookily enough, a heart. June Nealon's life has been harder than most. Having lost her first husband to a car accident, she falls in love with the police officer (Kyle) who helped her and her young daughter (Elizabeth) rebuild their lives. Seven months later, June is pregnant when Kyle and Elizabeth are murdered by an unassuming sociopath called Shay Bourne. Bourne is on death row when he learns June's young daughter, Claire, requires a heart transplant. In a final act of compassion, or torture, he offers his own. This 'what if' leads the reader on a merry dance through a number of big issues. Picoult explores these themes from a variety of perspectives. It is a technique that constantly challenges your assumptions but keeps you turning the pages. Picoult is a modern master.