Monday, January 3, 2011

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult


In Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, June Nealon has had a tragic life. Her first husband died in a car crash leaving her to care for their young daughter Elizabeth. The officer who had been on the scene of the crash would check in on June multiple times and support her during her grieving. Believing she found the man of her dreams, June married the officer Kurt Nealon. Everything had been turning around for June only to have another tragedy strike her life. While June was pregnant with Kurt's child, a handyman named Shay Bourne that worked for June was accused of killing Kurt and Elizabeth. June was now alone and pregnant and had to go through the trial of her child and husbands murderer. In the end the jury claimed that Shay was guilty and he was sent on death row which was one of the first in many years for that state.

The story then changes to the view of life inside of the prison through the eyes of an inmate named Lucius who had been convicted of killing his boyfriend when he found him cheating. Lucius had a cell next to Shay's and gave insight to their time in prison. Not long after Shay had moved to the tier, things seeming like miracles began to happen. A dead bird was revived, Lucius seemed cured of his AIDS and the plumbing in the system was suddenly filled with wine with all signs pointing to Shay's doing. Word gets out of these miracles and the public gathers outside the prison with their sick ones hoping that Shay would cure them. They believed that he was the Messiah.

While these miracles were occurring, a priest named Michael had visited Shay to give him comfort and guidance while he waited for his death sentence to be carried out. Michael had been on the jury that convicted and sentenced Shay Bourne to death and was starting to feel remorse for the conviction. He started to grow fond of Shay and through the book he began to question his faith. In court on day, the chains hanging from Shay simply dropped off without reason. Seeing such a thing makes Michael start to believe that maybe Shay was in fact the Messiah.

During the time of Shay Bourne's incarceration, June Nealon delivers the child she had been pregnant with and named her Claire. Claire is found to have a failing heart condition. To live, Claire needs a heart transplant. In the meantime she had been given a pace maker to restart her heart if it quit on her but the solution was only temporary. The clock is ticking on her chances at living but then an opportunity arises at gaining an available heart, the catch is the heart belongs to the killer of her father and sister. Shay Bourne had seen Claire on T.V. and knew she needed a heart and desperately wanted to give her his when he was put to death. For Shay, the method of his death was lethal injection which would not make his heart viable for a transplant. The story continues in a fight with the system to allow hanging so that the heart may be used and the fight of June Nealon to decide if she will accept to put a killer’s heart in her remaining daughter to keep her alive.


1. In Change of Heart, June Nealon must decide if she will accept a heart from the killer of her husband and first daughter in order to keep her second daughter Claire alive. Do you believe that it is possible to forgive a killer? What if forgiving them could save someone you loved?

2. During the novel Shay Bourne causes father Michael to begin wondering about his faith. What do you think you would do if you began to question one of your strongest beliefs?

19 comments:

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

1)I do not know if it would be possible to forgive a killer, but I know I would try if it was absolutely necessary. In this case, if June can tolerate the idea of her daughter having the heart of a killer in her, that is enough. She does not need to forgive the man. She just needs to accept that he is willing to try and give back in return for what he took from June.
2)If I began to question one of my strongest beliefs, I would probably start to question my identity. I think that a person's beliefs and goals make up most of who they are. If a person loses what they believe in, I think they start to lose who they are.

Kaitlyn H 11-12 said...

1) I think it is possible to forgive a killer, but it would not be easy at all. She doesn't really have to forgive him though to take his heart for her daughter. As long as she knows the heart is saving her daughter's life it shouldn't really matter who it is from.

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

1. I am not sure if i could forgive a killer. In this case June does not need to forgive the killer to save her daughter but I believe it could be very difficult for her to look at her daughter and know that she has the heart of someone who has kille her husband and other daughter.

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

1. I am not sure if i could forgive a killer. In this case June does not need to forgive the killer to save her daughter but I believe it could be very difficult for her to look at her daughter and know that she has the heart of someone who has kille her husband and other daughter.

Deanna K 5-6 said...

1. No, I don't believe it is possible to forgive a killer. Unless under some freak curcumstances it was an honest and complete accident, murder could never be completely forgiven. I do not believe I would have to forgive the killer in order to save someone else's life.
2. I probably should start questions other things in my life if I had become unsure of my faith which was very important to me. I would be unsure of every other aspect of my life.

Kristen R. 11-12 said...

To answer the first question, I think for me personally, it would be really hard to forgive a killer, especially if the victims were loved ones of mine. Also, I do not think that forgiving the killer is necessary in order to save someone that I loved. It would also be extremely difficult to cope with the fact that a loved one is living virtually through the killer. To answer the second question, if I began to question one of my strongest beliefs, I would also then question my purpose for living. I would wonder what it is that I am actually supposed to be doing with my life and what it is that I truly believe in. I might also have to reevaluate what my goals are and what I want to accomplish because goals stem from the beliefs and ideas of an individual.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

1) To me, it is impossible to forgive a killer. They took away someones life. However, if forgiving them would save a persons life, then I would definently forgive them. Forgiveness is not necessary. You can move on with your relationship between the killer and yourself; however, you do not need to forgive them.
2)I would not know what to do if i started to question my strongest belief. I would agree with others, that I would probably start to question my identity too. What a person believes in makes them who they are. Once I question one belief, I would most likely start questioning other beliefs of mine too.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. I actually think that June would have to forgive in some respect to take the heart. It may not be a full on forgiveness but I think if she accepts the heart, she is accepting what happened and doing that is a form of forgiveness even if it may be a minor amount. I would think her thoughts would be that he wasn't total scum off the bottom of someones shoes because he is fighting so hard to donate his heart to make up for what happened to her family. I know you could also put forth the argument that her love for Claire trumped her feelings of disgust and anger towards Shay but it's a matter of how you interpret.

I agree with Deanna about how forgiving a killer may be about circumstance. If it was out of cold blood, I don't think I could ever forgive them. No one should be in control of cutting someone's life short. The second half of my question was just a made up situation. What if to save someone you had to forgive a murderer? I know no real situation may call for this but I was curious on responses. For me it would be incredibly hard to do so and would take time. It's not easy to get rid of that kind of hurt even if it was to save someone. I would wish that I could forgive but I don't know if deep down I could let it go.

To move on, do you think that forgiveness is necessary or do you think you only need to accept that it happened?

2. I agree with what people have said on this one. I would start to question my whole identity and how I've lived. Not only would I wonder about how I've been living my own life but I would start to question the world in which we lived. If one thing I thought was right turned out to be wrong, then how many other things are false?

Erika B 13-14 said...

1. This is an extremely difficult question to answer. On one hand, I feel like forgiving a killer is almost impossible. How can you let yourself forgive someone who seemingly has no soul? That would be my initial reaction, unless there were circumstances, which in this case there are. I would do anything to save someone I love, even if that means doing something that almost seems impossible to me - forgiving a killer. If not forgiving a killer is the cause of death for someone you love, I feel almost like that in turn would make you yourself a killer.

2. If I began to question one of my strongest beliefs, I think I would feel alone and confused. I would not know what to believe anymore, or the difference between truth and fiction. I would not hold future beliefs as strong, for fear that this confusion would happen again.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

2) I think your experiences in life shape your beliefs and with new experiences comes changes in your beliefs. It is hard to come to terms with something when you are wrong or if you question something that you believe in. I think if this happened to me I would feel very lost. I would then search for something else I could believe in that would comfort me. I believe that faith and beliefs are a sense of comfort for people. It is something to turn to when people need guidance; therefore, it is hard to go against something that you have always trusted.

KatherineS13-14 said...

I would not have to forgive the killer in order to allow him to donate the heart to a loved one. I would take any heart available in order to save that life, if it happened to be the one of a killer, so what? It is only a body part. It is not like the killer's soul is in his heart. But back to the original question, I do believe that it is possible to forgive a killer. It would not be easy, but with enough time, if it was necessary, I would be able to forgive the killer.

Hannah L 13-14 said...

2)I believe if I began to question one of mystrongest beliefs it would cause lots of confusion and it would be very difficult. I don't know what I would do. I believe I would talk to friends and family and try to deal with the feelings that I was having and work through them with their help.

Ashley A. 11-12 said...

1) I don't believe she would have to forgive the killer to accept his heart to save her daughter. I think she could view it as some form of him giving back to her family after all he took away.

Megan L.11-12 said...

1. I don't see the dilemma as one of forgiveness. It's not like the heart in this man is going to change her daughters personality in any way. It will save her life. Tons of people take hearts for their loved ones from people that they don't know at all. It makes no difference where the heart is from. It's about saving a life.

2. This sort of relates to me, I mean I once had a lot of faith in God and Chritianity Christianity and that whole scene but now I don't. While I was sort of contemplating my views on faith, it was confusing and many times I second guessed myself whether or not my heart or my mind was right. In the end my mind always wins and I don't regret leaving faith because I see it as a means for people to find solace in death and creation and "WHY?". And it's okay with me that people believe things that I don't, I'm very tolerant, I'm just accepting that death is all that there is and creation is just creation by evolution, not some phenomena that makes us any different. We're wild animals.

SeanK56 said...

For question one, yes it would be kind of weird having that heart in your daughter, but its not like any of this murderers traits come along with it. Would you rather have your entire family gone or accept the heart to keep one?

Leah A 5-6 said...

1. I do not think I could forgive someone for killing people that I love and care about. However, in this case where forgiving someone would help save my loved one then I would try. I would rather have someone I loved in my life then keep hating someone that killed my family.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

I understand the argument that they're just organs but for me it would be hard to just accept that. I would probably try to exhaust all other resources before accepting the heart. To me it's not just organs but still a part of the person. I've heard of something where this man needed a new heart and his own adult daughter recently died and was a match. I don't remember if he took it or not but either way he started out refusing it with all he had. Do you think you could take an organ from a family member if they died and were a match to you?

Liz S.11-12 said...

In theory, and i say that because i'm sure in reality i could never go through with it, i would take the heart from the killer. Assuming he did kill them in the first place, your brain is what controls your actions not your heart, so it's not like she'd be turning her kid into a killer...

2. In this context it seeems like it's more confirming his faith than testing it. But i've never read the book so i can't really say.

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