Title: Harvesting the Heart
Author: Jodi Picoult
What you'll love: Great character voice. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of the two main characters.
What will bug you: Two main characters that are selfish - each in their own way.
My last book of 2009! I knew that anything Jodi Picoult would be a sure way to end the year with a good book! Harvesting the Heart was no exception.
Here is a brief "no spoilers" outline. The story revolves around a husband (Nicholas) and wife (Paige). Paige was raised by her father after being walked out on by her Mother at the age of five. Some events transpire which cause her to leave her home in Chicago and venture to Boston. Upon arriving in Boston, Paige intends to pursue a degree in art - but her plans are put on hold when she meets Nicholas, an ambitious doctor. When Paige eventually finds herself a new mother she is quickly overwhelmed. Her Mother's absence as well as the events preceding her departure from Chicago cause her to doubt her abilities as a mother, and as a person.
The New York Daily News has said "Picoult is at her best when she is writing about young motherhood." I completely agree. Not having children myself, I may not be the best judge. What I can tell you is that when a character in a Picoult novel is a new mother, the emotions are raw and very clear. At the heart of this story (no pun intended...) is a woman who has not only put her life on hold for her husband, but a woman who is trying to fit into a life she did not intend to be living. There is also a man who, despite being a doctor who is literally spending his day giving life, is not used to thinking much beyond himself. The journeys they take to come around on these issues is well crafted.
I read a blog recently where the writer asked "Do you need to like the characters to be able to enjoy the book?" For me, as long as the writing is good I don't need to necessarily like the main characters to enjoy the story. In this case I can tell you that there are times when you are frustrated with the characters. (Especially Nicholas - in fact even at the end of the story, although I've warmed up to him, I still feel a little reserved about it.)
First - I've said this before. Simple communication would render many problems nonexistent. ("What we have here is a failure to communicate.") I tend to get frustrated as a reader, and as a real life person, when people can't just say what their problem is. Paige is feeling overwhelmed? TELL SOMEONE! When you're honest, people can surprise you.
Second - my biggest eye-rolling moments were at the selfishness of the characters. There was a scene where Nicholas was coming home from work - Paige is home with a newborn baby - and he's looking forward to homemade fettuccine and a nice warm bed. Please. Snap into reality. There was another scene where Paige is feeling as if the baby is holding her prisoner in the house. Give me a break. It's not the baby - it's fear of taking him places. Let's recognize one from the other.
As the story progresses, the characters do become more likable, so I think you'll find it's worth it - just roll your eyes at them and keep reading... they figure it out.
Well done - a nice way to end 2009! If you're interested in buying this book, follow this link - I get a tiny cut from Amazon! :) You can follow this link for more information on Jodi Picoult. Happy reading!