Sunday, June 05, 2011

Review: Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

Harvesting the Heart

Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters and explores issues and emotions readers can relate to.

Pages: 464 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Penguin
Released: April 1, 1995

I've read my fair share of Jodi Picoult books, so I usually know what to expect. There's an interesting plot with a twist that will affect the lives of everyone involved. There is a couple going through a hard time, but they will somehow make it work at the end. And of course, there will be many scenes that involve a court room. Depending on the novel, there will also be multiple narrators telling you what happened.

So imagine my shock when Harvesting the Heart didn't have the majority of the key features that I mentioned above. There's no court room, there's no twist, and the ending is vague so we don't know if the couple makes it or not. I was surprised. In fact, I was happy that I would finally get something different.

The only problem is that the characters are not that engaging or relatable. I felt like Jodi really wanted us to understand where Paige was coming from and I did, but it felt forced. I also didn't understand the purpose of letting us know that Paige can draw people's secrets, when this wasn't really used. It almost seemed like it was thrown in there to make her seem even more quirky, except it wasn't executed well enough for that to happen.

Nicholas was another narrator in the book and even though he's a major character in the novel, I didn't really get much out of him. Whereas Paige had some depth, Nicholas didn't. He was a miracle child to parents who were trying for many years. So he grew up spoiled. When he marries Paige, she spoils him. When she goes through her depression of their son is born, he isn't as spoiled so he gets angry at her. When she leaves him, he gets even angrier. Angry, because he's not getting spoiled and has to do more work around the house.

I think the main problem I had was how Paige and Nicholas almost assumed that the other person should know how they are feeling. Why they couldn't just talk it out, I dunno. We wouldn't have had a novel then, of course, but it was still annoying for me to read.


This is a character driven novel and because of that, I couldn't get into it. The characters, at least to me, were not fleshed out enough for them to carry a novel. I don't have to like the character, or even relate to them in order for me to like a book, but I do need to find them engaging and fleshed out. Paige has some depth, but Nicholas is very one dimensional.

This is the second book that Jodi ever published, so that could be the reason. Her books do get better (albeit a bit predictable), but her writing has always been smooth and crisp.

2.5 stars

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