March 3, 2007

Harvesting the Heart

Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
Contemporary Fiction
Finished on 2/22/07
Rating: 2.5/5 (Average)
2007 TBR Challenge #2

Book Description:

Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago, she dreams of art school and marries an ambitious doctor - and soon becomes a mother herself. Overwhelmed by the demands of having a family, Paige cannot forget her mother's absence and the shameful memories of her own past, which make her doubt both her maternal abilities and her sense of self-worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts with astonishing clarity and evocative detail and absorbing novel that explores issues and emotions we can all relate to.

Hmmm, I suppose I can relate to some of Paige's issues. I, too, got married at a young age (19) and was a bit overwhelmed when our daughter was born two-and-a-half years later. I was immature and naive about marriage, emotionally dependent on my husband very much like Picoult's main character. Yet in spite of the demise of my first marriage, I had many friends and relatives I could turn to for help and advice. Paige was pretty much on her own as she tried to figure out how to be a good mother and a loving wife.

I found it difficult to sympathize with either of the main characters (quite frankly, I didn't care at all for Nicholas, who came across as too full of himself and unsympathetic to his wife's needs), and the minor characters lacked dimension. If I had to sum it up in a single word, I'd say this book was hokey. The pacing was uneven and some of the situations seemed implausible and contrived.

I've read and enjoyed several books by Jodi Picoult but this particular novel failed to impress me. It certainly wasn't
as entertaining (or as thought-provoking) as Keeping Faith, The Pact, Plain Truth or My Sister's Keeper, yet something pushed me to keep on reading to the end. Maybe I was simply tired of giving up on books so readily and felt compelled to complete this one just for the sake of finishing.


  1. I just finished My Sister's Keeper this week and loved it. I've been working my way through Pioult's books in the order she wrote them. I prefer to read author's that way because I enjoy seeing the growth (or decline into predictability in some cases) of their writing. Jodi Picoult is one who has definitely grown. Harvesting the Heart was one of her earliest and one of the weakest I've read so far of hers.

  2. SusiQ - I read My Sister's Keeper back in Dec. 2004 and loved it. Gave it a perfect 5/5. Here's what I wrote in my book journal:

    This easily could've been read in a day or two, as it was very engrossing. Picoult is a superb narrator, handling multiple voices adeptly and convincingly. Her ability to draw the reader in and care about the characters is exceptional. I had to remind myself I was reading fiction and not get too upset with where the story was leading me. As with all the Picoult's novels I've read thus far, My Sister's Keeper is well-researched and so believable. My emotions were all over the place as I read the book. Anger (with the mother), irritation (with Campbell), compassion (for Jessie), overwhelming sadness (for the entire family), and awe (for the bravery of both girls). Very thought-provoking and sure to stay with me a long, long time.

  3. I've got to read My Sister's Keeper. Harvesting the Heart was my first Picoult novel and I loved her writing but thought the story was lacking in some way. I don't remember why, but I felt like it was a slog.

  4. Nancy - I highly recommend Keeping Faith and The Pact, as well. They are both rapid page-turners and very provacative. I'll eventually read them again.

    I wonder if Harvesting the Heart dragged because of the alternating voices. Going from first person (Paige) to third (Nicholas) might have disrupted the flow a bit. Or, maybe she simply wasn't as polished as she is now.

  5. I read My Sister's Keeper last year after a very good friend raved about it, and I ended up hating it. Well, hating is a strong word - let's say intensely disliked. It was enough to turn me off from reading any of her other books. Just goes to show how different books strike different readers!

  6. Lesley - You and I didn't agree on The Time Traveler's Wife either, as I recall. No biggy. We can't all like the same thing blah blah blah. :)

  7. Oh yeah, it's actually one of my favorite things about book blogging - seeing where my opinions converge and differ with various people on any given book, especially when reading tastes are similar. Keeps things interesting!


I may not answer your comments in a timely fashion, but I always answer. Check back soon!