Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

“You love your baby, but you just can’t cope with being a mother”.

Writing about another moral dilemma, for which Jodi Picoult is famous for. Years ago, I loved reading Jodi’s novels, some of which “My Sister’s Keeper” and “Second Glance” were favourites.  I bought quite a few of her books, some I haven’t even read yet. Harvesting the Heart is one of the books I bought, but never had time to read it until recently…

harvesting the heartThe story is about Paige, a woman who was abandoned by her mother at the age of five. She stayed by her father until she ran away from home, after she had an abortion at 18 and graduated from high school. Paige had an ability to sketch a person’s secrets into a portrait and had dreamed of going to art school, but after she ran away she ended up working as a waitress in Boston where she met her future husband, Nicholas. Nicholas was a Harvard medical school student and comes from a rich upper class family. The two of them fell in love and got married. Nicholas’ parents were against the relationship and gave him an ultimatum: Either he doesn’t marry Paige or they will cut him off and stop paying for his medical studies if he decides to marry her.  The two, being hopelessly in love, decides that they don’t need his parents’ financial support and got married anyway. Paige continues to waitress at the restaurant in Boston and pay for Nicholas to finish his medical studies. They decided as soon as Nicholas is finished with his studies she will pursue art school.  As fate would have it, Paige falls pregnant.  Paige, who grew up without a mother and the fact that she had an abortion previously, starts doubting her maternal ability and questioning whether she really wants this baby or not. Three months after the baby was born, Paige runs away from her family – Nicholas and her son, Max – as she just cannot deal with being a mother. Instead, she went off to visit her father for the first time after she ran away, ran into her ex boyfriend who she is still secretly in love with and then decides that she wants to find her real mother. Meanwhile Nicholas, who became a brilliant cardiac surgeon, cannot deal with being a single parent AND his high-pressure job decides to reconcile with his parents. Nicholas is livid with Paige, and when she eventually returns he refuse that she sees her child or give her a chance to fix the marriage. Paige then turns to her mother in law for help…

So what did I think of this book? First of all, Paige is annoying and Nicholas is way too arrogant. How could she leave her new born baby without thinking twice and stay away for months running after a mother who abandoned her? Isn’t she doing the exact same thing to her child? And giving up her dreams for a husband…  Then there’s Nicholas who refuse for months to let Paige anywhere near Max, until Max becomes sick and Paige falls apart and just like that, he feels sorry for her, makes passionate love to her and all is right in the world {Great ending to the story right?}

I’m not saying the novel was bad, to be honest there were moments while reading it that I actually enjoyed the book. The story are being narrated by Paige in first person and by Nicholas in third person. The characters in the book are interesting and the events and surroundings are beautifully described. The writing style isn’t bad as well, but I felt a bit disconnected to the story line. Nicholas, as a person was way too arrogant for me – he took more than he gave. In love, its give and take right? While I understand Paige’s pain of being abandoned and her need for finding her mother, there are moments where the whole damsel in distress, lack of self confidence in who and what she is and her submissiveness (“When Nicholas was dressed in a tuxedo, I would have done anything he ask”) just annoyed me.

However, I think that my feelings towards the characters are just a testament to the fact that the book was well written enough that I was sucked into the story and reliving the character’s emotions.  I think this is an easy read, but there are other Jodi Picoult books that are better. The only worse Picoult book than this one is “Songs of the humpback whale” (her first novel). I think Harvesting the heart is the second novel. Maybe that explains why…

This might not be a glowing review, but we should be honest in our reviews right? I would give this novel a 2.5 (maybe 3) out of 5.

  • So. . . this is saying something if you just explained the entire book and I have no idea if I have read it or not. . . guess that means that I was not a fan! BTW, you’re on a Picoult kick at the moment.

    • Mel

      Picoult kick? As in, reading a lot of her books? Not really hey, this is my first review on a Picoult novel 🙂

      • Well, then maybe I should say your blog. Les did one recently, too, right? And then you guys were talking about how you should read another one.

        • Mel

          I think there’s 3 on the blog (must check later cos I’m replying on my iPhone app). We promised we’d do reviews on all the books we’ve read. The good, the bad and the ugly 😉
          Which ones have you read ?

          • Very true! I’ve read almost all of her “older” books, but not the new stuff. I tried to read the one about the music therapist, but it got kind of far fetched with a lesbian thing really quickly and I gave it up. But before that one, I have read most of them.

            Favorites: My Sister’s Keeper and Perfect Match and Plain Truth.

          • Mel

            Mine too 🙂

  • I went on a “Picoult-kick” a few years back, but I think her books have been going downhill since The Tenth Circle (I think that was the name of it?). It was the last one I remember enjoying. I don’t think I”ll be reading this one, though!

    • Mel

      I have yet to read tenth circle (have the book for a few years now). There are some nice picoult novels though. I have a backlog of her books that I must still read, but I’m in no hurry to pick them up 🙂

      • Anything that is before 2010 and after her first couple of books is amazing!

        • Mel

          I know I have vanishing acts, tenth circle and nineteen minutes amongst the ones I must still read…

  • Les

    I totally agree that we should be honest in reviews and we should share with our readers on whatever novel we read. Another reader might be interested in that specific novel that you did not like so much. I have read more books than what we have on our blog. The ones I have posted thus far is ones I have recently read but I think I should post reviews on books I have read a few years ago as well. And I will definitely not read “Songs of the humpback whale” so thanks for the warning 😉 And yes My Sister’s Keeper is a winner out of Picoult’s novels 🙂

    • Mel

      You should totally write those 200 reviews 🙂
      Like I always say – what works for me, might not work for you. Who knows, you might just LOVE Songs of a humpback whale 😉