Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

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Plot Summary

June’s daughter, Claire, needed a heart transplant. However, it was Shay, a man on death row for killing the rest of June’s family years ago, who wanted to donate his. After a grim, life-and-death struggle and careful consideration, June accepted Shay’s “grand” offer grudgingly, so Claire’s life was saved.


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Before reading the book’s brief introduction, the words “change of heart” gave me the impression that this book is about a person suffering from heart failure and had to get a heart transplant from an unknown donor just like so many others did. After reading the blurb, I discovered that this is not the case. Actually, the plot is very special and the issue is very controversial and worth discussing so I started reading this book.

I have to assure everyone that this book is a page-turner that impels readers to read towards the very last page. Would you fulfil your enemy’s dying wish to save the life of somebody you love? In this novel, Jodi Picoult delves into questions of vengeance, mercy, salvation and redemption by exploring the rage of June who already lost a daughter, the bitterness of Shay the criminal on death row and the fate of a critically-ill child to force them to think about a question: “Can even the most understandable thirst of vengeance be squashed if it means saving someone you love? In my opinion, as there is an old saying : What’s done, is done, I think June should forgive or at least put aside Shay’s wrongdoings and accept his kind offer because this would be an act of forgiving herself and other’s too. Moreover, this would be the only way to save her daughter (There was no one except Shay whose heart was suitable for Claire. ) However, of course, as a reader, we know that June’s family did not die of murder but manslaughter.

So, that’s why I actively encourage June to accept Shay’s giving, which came out of love. As a result, my answer to June’s question : “Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you loved? ” is definitely yes. Besides, I truly appreciate Jodi Picoult having the courage to write about these themes, which are novel, controversial and meaningful. Secondly, concerning about the characters, I think Shay was a hero because he was humble and willing to sacrifice himself.

For example, when there were miracles --water turned into wine, Calloway’s pet robin was brought back to life and a tiny piece of gum became enough for all to share—happening under his finger in the prison, he did not boast about himself, but instead denied that he was a “Messiah” and said that he was just an ordinary man who wanted to donate his heart to save a little girl called Claire for redemption.

Besides, although nobody knew the truth—it was only because Shay wanted to protect Elizabeth from being sexually-abused by her stepfather, Kurt that he was compelled to shoot Kurt and accidentally shot Elizabeth too. He still insisted to die for Claire because he loved that family and wanted for redemption for his big mistake. Having lost a daughter and two husbands, June’s life was fraught with grief. I can vividly see how that grief shaped her character and informing the choices that she makes.

At first, when she had lost her first husband, she was willing to take a second chance and let go of the past and start a new life by remarrying and giving birth to another girl. However, when her first daughter and second husband were “murdered”, she broke apart. When it came to the decision whether to have a restorative justice meeting with Shay and accepting his heart, June initially refused, which showed that she was no longer that flexible and easy to adapt to changes. Fortunately, in the end, being more rational, June made the correct decision—to take Shay’s heart.

I think she made this choice in hopes of a better future, which was also a wise move. Last of all, looking upon the writing strategies, the way Jodi Picoult presents the story generates readers’ interest in finding out what’s going to happen. Each chapter is written from the perspectives of a different character. I get to know all the characters’ inner thoughts: their fear, hope, bitterness and above all, their reflections of what makes sense of them. I felt as if I were one of the characters while reading. I understood their feelings.

I explored their complex minds. I walked with them in their life journeys. I felt deeply what they underwent. I could view things from different people’s perspectives. Through this, I could experience the sorrow and difficulties of June and her family. In the epilogue, it is the first and the last chapter written from Claire’s perspectives, which makes the ending very unique. In conclusion, Change of Heart is a true-to-life story, which I love so much and would strongly recommend to all my fellow schoolmates.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult essay

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Explore how the human body functions as one unit in harmony in order to life

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. (2017, Mar 29). Retrieved from

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