After reading six books straight from the Narnia series, I felt I needed a good dose of adult realism. Ahh, Jodi Picoult, just the ticket, get myself immersed in some real life issues and away from children's fantasy and C. S. Lewis' Biblical retelling. Like the other Picoult books I have read, this one deals with some social, medical, political; and, to my dismay, religious issues. While it is certainly not children's literature (a man is stabbed in the throat with the end of a broom handle), there is definitely an element of fantasy to this book as well. It took me about halfway through the book to just suspend my disbelief and read the story for what it was. Here is a synopsis from Amazon:
Picoult bangs out another ripped-from-the-zeitgeist winner, this time examining a condemned inmate's desire to be an organ donor. Freelance carpenter Shay Bourne was sentenced to death for killing a little girl, Elizabeth Nealon, and her cop stepfather. Eleven years after the murders, Elizabeth's sister, Claire, needs a heart transplant, and Shay volunteers, which complicates the state's execution plans. Meanwhile, death row has been the scene of some odd events since Shay's arrival—an AIDS victim goes into remission, an inmate's pet bird dies and is brought back to life, wine flows from the water faucets. The author brings other compelling elements to an already complex plot line: the priest who serves as Shay's spiritual adviser was on the jury that sentenced him; Shay's ACLU representative, Maggie Bloom, balances her professional moxie with her negative self-image and difficult relationship with her mother. Picoult moves the story along with lively debates about prisoner rights and religion, while plumbing the depths of mother-daughter relationships and examining the literal and metaphorical meanings of having heart. The point-of-view switches are abrupt, but this is a small flaw in an impressive book.Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
Eventually I began to enjoy the religious issues that Picoult presents because she lets the reader draw her own conclusions. I've heard very little about the Gnostic Gospels and found that information very interesting. I felt that she did carry the Messianic comparisons a little far, but she also capably portrayed the polarizing effects of religion; something mankind has yet to find a way to overcome. I like the use of four narrators as it allows you to get to know those characters so well as they unfold the story. Picoult's research into so many different topics never fails to astound and impress me. I always learn something when I read her books. It's always good to see other viewpoints. Even though I struggled with this book at first, I ended up liking it very much. Except for the epilogue; that was over the top.