Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, so when I found this novel for .75 at a library book sale AND I had never read it, it was all I could do to hold back the squeals & not make a complete fool out of myself. Jodi Picoult writes about hot, current topics in a fictional way (suicide, stem cell research, kidnappings, murders, school shootings etc), topics that are unfortunately all to common. She puts “stories” behind these issues & makes you think about these topics, how would you react if you were the shooters mom, the caretaker of a cloned child, or the sibling of a kidnapped victim. The book jacket for Harvesting the Heart didn’t describe what it was about, but given the author I knew I’d like it. Boy, was I wrong…very, very wrong! In fact, this was up there with one of the WORST books I’ve ever read. If this had been my first Jodi Picoult novel, chances are it would’ve been my last. Fortunately I assumed she must have been having an “off” month when she wrote this because it was TERRIBLE.
I’m going to try to summarize the book very quickly. If there had been a dust jacket I imagine it would’ve went something like this: (at least if I had written it)
Paige O’ Toole-a wannabe artist, dealing with abandonment issues from her mother leaving her at a young age, abandons her father by running away in the middle of the night, then abandons her husband & child several years later, then finds her abandoned mom & abandons her because her mom isn’t sensitive enough to Paige’s whining about how hard she had it, only to return to her husband & child expecting them to be forgiving, supportive, & happy to see her, because she’s a victim of abandonment.
Ummmm…yeah! Don’t think it works like that Paige.
I think this novel was so terrible, to me anyways, because Paige felt like she was entitled to selfishness. That it was her RIGHT to be careless with other people’s feelings because she was hurting. Now I’m not the moral police & I have certainly been careless & selfish with people’s feelings & hearts. But at some point, either through your own conscience or outside factors, you wake up & face what you’ve done. Paige never did that. Throughout the whole novel she felt her actions were justified-she was an abandoned child, she had an abortion, she lost the love of her life, she married a man who was never home, she was a bad mom, her in-laws hated her, she gave up her dreams…BLAH BLAH BLAH. I got so tired of hearing her complain how hard she had it & her continuous whining about being a punching bag for God. The whole, “What have I done to deserve this?” tantrum she threw in the middle of downtown Boston, literally made me toss my book across the room. She just never got it. She never got that regardless of your past, it’s never an excuse for bad behavior in the present. She never figured out why Nicholas was so mad at her for leaving (after all she said she would be back) & then manipulated her way into his workplace & stalked him…it was just weird. Then she preceded to have a nervous breakdown after calling her husband a liar…huh??? Weird!
I felt the most empathy for Paige’s father, who was the only character in the novel that I truly liked. He never stopped loving his wife, he gave up his dreams to raise a daughter that he loved, even when she to, left him. He was the example of what a parent should be. I wish Jodi Picoult would’ve involved his character more in the storyline.
I wouldn’t recommend this novel, but only because I personally didn’t like it. Try any of her other books (my favorite happens to be Plain Truth), but skip this one. Harvesting the Heart isn’t like her other novels, the writing is good, however, it’s just an annoying book. Especially if you get passionate & involved in books, like I do, it’ll make you wanna slap Paige. I did read some reviews about this novel on Goodreads (an online book club I’m a member of) & more people liked it than not. So it’s strictly a matter of taste.
And I happen to have excellent taste! 😉