Where there’s smoke – Jodi Picoult

Picoult once again gives us a spellbinding tale, however, this time in the form of a short story released free for all Kindle and app holders. Where there’s smoke is a prequel to Jodi’s eagerly anticipated novel Leaving Time which comes out later this year. This time we see the world through Serenity’s view, a hot shot television psychic who makes a catastrophic mistake that threatens to not only end her career but also destroy her life.  As things quickly start to fall apart in front of her eyes Serenity realises that fame isn’t always a good thing, but how far will she go to salvage her reputation before she loses it all?

I couldn’t believe that by the end of this short story not only did I feel like I’d fallen into Serenity’s world and was actually living it alongside her, I started to believe in her world. I’m not someone who is into psychics and hangs onto their every word, but somehow I was hooked and started really thinking about the possibilities. It sounds extreme but this is the talent that Picoult holds, something I was entirely sceptical about was going around in my mind. Not only that but by the end of the novella I was desperate to start the novel, which we’ll have to wait until November for! In simply 40 pages Picoult has wet our appetites for the next instalment, however, we won’t have to wait that long as another short story is due to be published in the summer.

Even though I’m not usually a fan of short stories this was fantastic. I want to give this 5 stars *****, it may be short but there is certainly a lot of action involved. The only sad part is that those who don’t have an electronic device to read won’t be able to see this even after the novel is published. Other than that the short story is perfect and a great way to get us involved in the story before the novel is even released.

Review by Chloe Metzger 

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An evening I will never forget.

I have just got home from the most amazing night in London. I’m going to try and put all of this into words for you guys but I am so hyperactive and excited and AHHHHHHH. Tonight I went to ‘An evening with Jodi Picoult’ at Kingsplace, London. So not only did I get to meet my all time favourite author (other than J K Rowling of course),not only that I got to speak to her! The best part? My literary idol KNEW WHO I WAS, spoke to me and told me I WAS a writer. Once I got out of there I cried and I’m pleased, I also got mobbed a little in the toilets because people knew who I WAS?!?

I know I’ve gone a little heavy on the capitals but come on? The talk was really interesting and I took my mum (she’s not really into these kinds of books), I think it’s safe to say that Jodi has gained a new fan! Jodi came across as a really friendly and loveable woman, not to mention completely hilarious at points but also she showed her passion. The passion comes across in the novel but seeing her for real? It was inspiring. So now I have her advice on research, I am going to go and start my novel.

Watch this space.

Change of Heart – Jodi Picoult

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I guess that the picture above gives away the basic plot of this novel. The whole ‘What would you do?’ question printed on each of the novels front covers is fairly recent as when I started reading Jodi Picoult novels (around 2009/2010 when my teacher recommended her as I was reading everything else too fast due to a leg injury meaning hours on my own) these were not printed. I can’t exactly remember which novel I picked up first, it might have been My Sister’s Keeper which I found in the spare bedroom at my boyfriends house, either way I was hooked on these novels from the word go.

Change of Heart is divided into 4 voices (which is normal in Picoult’s world),a Death Row convict , a Catholic priest, a Jewish lawyer and a heartbroken mother. Shay has been convicted of a double murder of a child and her step father (Junes daughter and husband) and is awaiting the date of his death. After being on death row for 10 years Shay learns that the sister of his victim is awaiting an urgent heart transplant and will die soon if she does not receive a new heart, upon hearing this Shay decides that after his death he wants his heart to go to the little girl so he can save her. Ok I understand your confusion at this point, I was a little confused too but it makes more sense when you are actually reading it and have the story in your head.

Throughout the novel there are many twists and turns that make you think where the hell did that come from? (In a good way I mean) Picoult loves throwing in these curveballs which make you re evaluate what you think and in the way of characters I think she has achieved this perfectly. A lot of people would criticize ‘unrealistic’ changes to plot line or characters that do not necessarily change throughout the novel, however in many of these instances Picoult has dealt with this almost effortlessly. Some criticize the character of June saying that she’s full of anger and emotion or even by saying that she isn’t fiery enough or is mopey. I’m sorry but if you had to live with your first husband dying in his job as a police officer, your second husband being murdered along with your young daughter while being heavily pregnant, then having to raise that child alone with a serious heart condition I don’t think your really going to be skipping along, do you? The character of Shay has also been criticized, however I find him absolutely fascinating, he really draws you in because of the religious element, the great thing about Picoult is that she will not shy away, in this novel she shows our fascination as a culture with religion. I myself am not religious but found this twist absolutely fascinating and I can’t give Picoult enough praise for again flipping something completely that throws the reader off balance.

I have recently learnt that there is going to be a film version of this at some point and I’m actually very curious. If anyone has read my previous posts you will notice this is not the first Jodi Picoult review I have written, I also reviewed My Sister’s Keeper as well and spoke about the film version. For those of you who have not read my review, I expressed how damn angry I was at the film makers, I refuse to watch it as so much has been changed. In my opinion if you want to base a film off of a novel of course it wont be exactly the same and that’s okay as not everything is going to be the same as they are different methods BUT! when you completely change the plot line I’m really not okay with it, I cant tell you what changes as it will either ruin the novel or the film but it just made me mad! That novel was a stroke of genius with detailed medical and ethical research and in a way the beauty of it just got thrown away. It is because of this I’m so interested and slightly wary of film adaptations (don’t even get me started on Twilight!), so it’ll be interesting to see how they have handled this.

Overall I feel that this is one of Picoult’s most breathtaking pieces of work, I could not put this novel down for the life of me. I wish I could tell you all of the beautiful twists but alas I can’t so it is up to you guys!! I give this ***** 5 stars, absolutely perfect. No flaws in the plot either! I could go in forever but I will let you go and find out for yourself!

Review by Chloe Metzger

In light of this review can I please ask you to consider organ donation 🙂 thank you!

My Sisters Keeper – Jodi Picoult

If you haven’t heard of this brilliant book I would like to ask you which rock you have been living under recently so I can go and destroy it then cover you in brilliant books! I read this long before the stupid film with Cameron Diaz that completely ruined the plot line ( I have heard how it ends, it’s wrong and ruins the brilliance of the novel itself).

As most of you already know from reading my blog I absolutely adore Jodi Picoult novels (although as with most authors there are a few that I wasn’t so keen on but I do have more than 15 Jodi Picoult novels on my bookcase), the brilliance of them you ask? The shock that Picoult seems to place so effortlessly,the questions she puts to us that we think about for days afterwards. What would I do?, how would I cope?, who is really the victim and who is the villain? I beg you please do not let the hollywood glamour and screen writers ‘visions’ blur your perceptions of this fantastic novel, a novel that I could not put down, nor could many people I know.

In 1990 the Fitzgerald family was just like any other American family, Firefighter Brian his lawyer turned mother wife Sara, son Jesse and daughter Kate. Little did they know that two-year old Kate was about to be diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, and the little girls chances of survival are slim. After treatment after treatment and brother Jesse failing to be a match to give her the bone marrow she desperately needs, so at a passing comment from a Doctor Sara begs her husband to have IVF to have another baby, a baby who is a perfect match for Kate, to help her sister. However Picoult has gone further than that she wants the reader to know that this baby will be loved,

‘What do you hope for this baby in ten years’

‘I hope I can tell her to stop bugging her sister’

Flash forward and 13 year old Anna has had enough,after constant,painful and tedious hospital treatments to save Kate she doesn’t want to watch her sister die but she can’t stand by and miss out on her life, simply for being born.

Now it is not simply one issue that Picoult has dealt with here, I think that is why the families she creates are so realistic. Nobody in them is perfect and as with many families when one person has an illness, it can cause a ripple effect that turns into a tidal wave that has no mercy. Everyone in the world knows that cancer is not simply a one person illness, families are torn down to the foundations and often learn about each other. By using Julia and Campbell, you can also see an outside perspective and their stories entwined with the Ftizgerald families does give you a bit of a distraction although not completely as Picoult has seamlessly combined these stories into the same breath and complimented real life. The message seeming to be we all have demons but not all of them are as clear-cut to see.

The one thing you will notice in the fist few pages is that we are not clear on who the speaker is, with this ambiguity and a slight hint of bitterness Picoult draws you in. Who is speaking, who is going to die? I cannot answer these questions for you but once you pick it up I assure you ,you cannot put it down. The relation between sisters Anna and Kate is truly breath-taking they really do seem to lean on each other, but have the usual sisterly relationship of she stole my make up, you are so annoying etc, but it is clear that they do love each other so much. As much as possible Picoult has added the normal family dynamic that you would expect to find within any household. However this is not a normal family, it is shattering left,right and centre and the girls seem to cling to each other, Kate being eternally grateful to her little sister and only wanting the best for her even if it means her own life coming to an end.

The way in which Anna was conceived is also not clear-cut, it does show the whole argument for the ‘designer baby’ debate in a medical sense. Although you do have the love of the sisters and Ana is obviously loved within her family (as is shown in the powerful relationship she holds with her father something that honestly can bring a tear to your eye, because really without her father I think she would have fallen apart), she goes to the extreme of wanting the rights to her own body because in her own words she had ‘never been asked’ if this was what she wanted and for a 13-year-old girl they weight of your sister’s life on your shoulders can be a completely damaging prospect. Are you selfish for wanting to live your own life, even if this kills your sister. Are you selfish for not wanting to give away your kidney, meaning the chance that you may have to give up the possibility of  your own children and the sport you love, because of what you were born to do? On the flip side, Kate’s mother is fighting so hard and has been for so long to make sure that Kate stays alive she seems to forget that both of her daughters, even Kate might want to say enough is enough, I can’t do this anymore. It is heartbreaking that this mothers love is being tested loosing any of her babies is killing her but this does not make her a bad person or mother, it simply shows the hardships of the situation she is faced with and as the catchphrase on Picoult’s novels says ‘What would you do?’ many of us couldn’t even imagine.

Throughout the novel,you just want to hug Jesse and this shows the true extent of the damage of any illness on a family. You have a young boy who, without meaning to his parents have ignored. It is interesting though that he is never angry towards or about his sisters. The anger and bitterness he portrays is almost entirely devoted towards the Cancer that is tearing his family apart and partially towards his parents but it is simply because inside he is still that little boy who had to spend christmas with neighbours. The little boy who needed a hug and ultimately the child and man who wasn’t able to save his sister. This is perhaps one of the most haunting parts of the novel, Jesse feels partially to blame and guilt stricken that both of his little sisters are in pain and there is absolutely nothing he can do. So as is the way in some cases he turns to the bad side of life, although never loosing his caring nature (this is shown from his relationship with a homeless man). Jesse is there to represent the outward effect Cancer has, you have someone hooked up to wires and tubes being blasted with chemo but back home you have the rest of the family the people who in cases like Kate’s have to chance their whole life to fit around the cancer.

As for the parents, as I have already touched upon Sara is so human and complex , as is the relationship she has with Brian. There are times when both of them break down,where they fight over the children but he truth of the matter is they really need each other. She needs him so she does not forget who the REAL Sara is, the girl who was once a young lawyer, who could laugh and tease him, to keep the family together while she spends weeks at the hospital with Kate. He needs her because she knows what to do, she knows how to juggle three children, one with a horrific disease, he also need the old Sara to remind him of the life they had and have a glimpse of happiness every now and again.

This is one of the books that you HAVE to read before you die, I believe that it will be considered a classic in the years to come. Of course it gets five stars (as do most of Picoult’s novels although there are some that I got bored with fairly quickly). I cannot tell you all the twists turns and secrets obviously it would ruin the novel itself so go, go now and buy it! (also it helped me pass biology, a credit to Picoults research skills!)

My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Available from all good book retailers and for eBook

Review by Chloe Metzger