Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who abandoned her when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago, she dreams of art school, marries an ambitious doctor – and soon becomes a mother herself. Overwhelmed by the demands of having a family, Paige cannot forget her mother’s absences and the shameful memories of her own past, which make her doubt both her ability to give and her sense of self-worth.
Harvesting the Heart, Picoult’s second novel, was heartbreaking, frank, and colorful; a stark contrast to her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale. The novel, unlike the rest of Picoult’s work, is told in alternating forms, first person through Paige and third person through Nicholas, Paige’s husband. While I would have prefered to have read Nicholas’ side of the story in first person, the third person chapters didn’t bother me as much as I originally thought they would.
The storyline is extremely gripping, so much that I read the whole novel in a span of four hours. It’s a fascinating, affecting story of a young woman who is haunted by her mother walking out on her when she was only five years old, which only makes her question her own abilities as a mother and as a person. Towards the end of the novel, Paige also struggles with her belief in God.
“You still haven’t given me a reason,” I said, “and you re far from what is considered normal. Normal people do not vanish in the middle of the night and never speak to their families again. Normal people do not spend two decades using a dead person’s name. Normal people do not met their daughter for the first time in twenty years and act like it’s an ordinary visit.” (305)
I thought I would be angry with Paige for leaving, like Nicholas was, but Picoult writes so that I felt she had no other choice. Her characters, especially that of Paige, are realistic and make you want to be their friend, with the exception of Nicholas. Nicholas comes off a cold, unforgiving, and I still not exactly sure why Paige is with him.
It’s a pretty dark book, which is different from Picoult’s other novels, but I really liked it. The ending is slightly boring and pretty predictable, and I started to get frustrated with Paige and Nicholas’ misunderstandings, but Harvesting the Heart is one of Picoult’s best, despite the cheesy title.
- Picoult, Jodi. Harvesting the Heart. New York: Penguin, 1995. Print. 453 pgs. ISBN: 9780140230277. Source: Purchased.