Harvesting the Heart

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Harvesting the Heart,  Jodi Picoult, book reviewI love reading Jodi Picoult’s books and they never fail to make me think as well as make me feel a huge range of different emotions. Her characters are often faced with moral dilemmas and the choices they have to make are never easy. This is the case with ‘Harvesting the Heart‘ which was one of her earliest books, published in 1993, but has recently been republished.

Harvesting the Heart‘ centres on a young woman called Paige who’s life has never been easy. Her mother left home when she was five, she had an abortion just before she graduated high school and ran away from her home at age eighteen rather than face her father’s daily disappointment in her. She arrives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and fortunately finds waitressing work in a diner, where she becomes quite well known for the drawings she creates of all the customers. One customer in particular is fascinated by her and they soon strike up a friendship that quickly leads to more. However, Nicholas’s upbringing could not have been more different to Paige’s as he had devoted parents, a luxurious home and everything that money could buy including a good education that has led him into the medical profession.

Against his parents’ wishes, Nicholas marries Paige but she never feels comfortable in his hospital world where he is rapidly rising in the field of heart surgery and much is expected of a surgeon’s wife. Things get worse after she gives birth to their son Max and, feeling lonely and desperate, she struggles to be the best mother to her young son. Nicholas fails to understand how she is feeling and things get so bad that one day she just gets in her car and drives, leaving Max and Nicholas at home. She doesn’t have any plans and doesn’t even know whether she will go home believing that Max may be much better off without her. Also, if she does decide to return, will Nicholas want her back anyway?

“…it is a well written and involving story that I just had to keep reading.”

Harvesting the Heart‘ is a fabulously absorbing read that really draws the reader in to the life of its unhappy main character. It is quite painful at time to witness her anguish and self doubt but also very easy to emphasise with her too. It is also quite sad to watch the disintegration of the marriage and to see how their lack of communication seems to contribute to its downfall. Jodi Picoult is particularly perceptive in portraying weaknesses in the human character and she does this particularly well with both Paige and Nicholas. Having said that. ‘Harvesting the Heart’ is not a miserable read and there are many uplifting moments as well.

Harvesting the Heart‘ is well paced and covers several years. Chapters alternate between Paige’s and Nicholas’s points of view with Paige’s chapters written in the first person. This works really well and definitely helps the reader appreciate both of their perspectives. Jodi Picoult also depicts really well what it feels to be like at home all day every day with a small baby and I feel sure that many readers would identify with the way Paige feels.

Jodi Picoult’s titles are often intriguing and I was not really sure why the novel was called ‘Harvesting the Heart’ until about halfway through when she was describing a heart transplant that Nicholas was going to be performing. The ‘harvesting’ was the removal of the heart from the deceased ready for transplant. I definitely did not know that before! I must also warn you that some of the surgical procedure descriptions are not for the faint-hearted and I have to admit to skimming the parts of the story that took place in the operating theatre!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading ‘Harvesting the Heart‘, and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as some of her later work, it is a well written and involving story that I just had to keep reading. I definitely recommend it for all Jodi Picoult fans.

Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
Published by Hodder & Stoughton, October 2010
With thanks to publisher for providing a review copy.

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Harvesting the Heart
by Jodi Picoult

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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