How much is Jodi Picoult worth?
|Net Worth:||$12 Million
|Date of Birth:||May 19, 1966|
|Country:||United States of America|
Who Is Jodi Picoult
Jodi Lynn Picoult is an American author who has published 26 novels, as well as short stories, and also notably written several issues of Wonder Woman.
Handle with Care
All Jodi Picoult’s books are a little bit like watching a train wreck — painful yet strangely interesting to watch. Handle with Care is no different — the plot is depressing, you’ll be angry with many of the characters, and you may end up throwing your book at the end. Still, if you have read Picoult before, you know that’s what you should expect. The question, then, is whether this is a train wreck worth watching. The answer: you won’t want to look away.
Handle with Care is the story of a family with two daughters. The second was born with brittle bone disease, a condition that makes her bones break easily and that limits her height and movement. When Willow (the daughter with a disability) is four, her parents decide to sue their OB for “wrongful birth,” claiming that Willow’s condition should have been diagnosed earlier in the pregnancy so that they could have terminated the pregnancy. Sound controversial? Add to it the fact that the OB is the mother’s best friend, who has remained close to the family since the birth, then throw in a neglected and bulimic older sibling, and you have classic Picoult.
Extreme as it is, Handle with Care works well because the characters are complicated and it is not clear where the plot will go. As a reader, you may find yourself unsure of what you want — do you hope the family wins so that they can pay their medical bills and provide a better life for their daughters or do you think the parents are being selfish and that no amount of money can undo hearing that your parents may not have wanted you? This is one of many ethical questions Handle with Care raises, which is why it would be a good choice for book clubs looking for lively conversation.
Sing You Home
I have pretty strong opinions about Jodi Picoult novels. I can see why they appeal to some people: they are generally fast paced page turners that deal with hot button issues. Book clubs might like how easy it is to discuss the topics Picoult presents since they tend to be subjects that draw out strong opinions. I do not, however, like Jodi Picoult novels. I think they are emotionally manipulative, unrealistically sad and melodramatic, and unbalanced in their portrayal of sensitive issues. I also think they are formulaic. My usual advice is that if you want to read a Jodi Picoult novel, browse this list of all her published books and pick the topic that most interests you. Might as well insert your area of interest into Picoult’s formula, which goes something like this: family drama + social issue + court scene + crazy twist at the end = crying and throwing book.
That being said, when I review a Picoult novel, I use a relative scale. I compare it to everything else I’ve read from her as opposed to everything else I have read.
Sing You Home is slower than some of Picoult’s novels, but that might be a good thing. The characters seemed more likable and realistic. The twists and courtroom drama were not key, and I liked that change. It did, however, take me a while to finish the book because it did not grip me. I put it down for a week more than once, and didn’t miss reading it at all. On the other hand, I have thought about the book and characters several times since finishing the novel. They stuck with me and became almost real players in the gay rights drama unfolding in the United States.
I think one of the main problems with Sing You Home is that it tries to cover too much over too short of a time. The main character (a woman) struggles with infertility, gets a divorce, falls in love with another woman, gets remarried then decides she wants her partner to carry the eggs she and her former spouse had fertilized and frozen for In Vitro Fertilization. That’s a lot of action before the courtroom drama even begins! And it all happens in about 6 months time! I had to ignore the time frame to make it at all believable, and Picoult couldn’t address any of the changes in depth without slowing down the novel even further. (I didn’t even mention the ex-husband’s side story, which includes an alcoholic relapse, his life falling apart, a religious conversion and his life coming back together — all in the same short time frame). (Don’t worry, this paragraph actually is not a spoiler since all of this is prelude to the main action of the novel).
One of the best parts of the novel is the main character’s profession as a music therapist. The interactions with her patients and the details about music therapy were poignant.
Overall, I liked Sing You Home more than Picoult’s other releases over the past few years.
My Sister’s Keeper
If you are new to Jodi Picoult’s writing, My Sister’s Keeper is a good place to start. It is arguably Picoult’s best book, and definitely her most well known. It was released as a movie in June 2009, although the ending of the book and movie are not the same. Picoult’s books follow a certain formula — chapters told from different viewpoints, characters that you love to hate, major tragedy and family drama, and usually a big twist at the end. In some of Picoult’s books, this formula combines with stories that seem overly emotional and contrived. In My Sister’s Keeper, however, Picoult creates a fascinating story that raises interesting questions for book clubs to discuss.
My Sister’s Keeper is a page turner that you won’t want to put down, but it is also an emotional roller coaster. Don’t read it if you don’t like to cry. If you decide to pick it up, I recommend doing so with a friend or book club. This is one you are going to want to talk about when you finish it!
Change of Heart
June Nealon’s daughter needs a heart transplant, and the man on death row for killing the rest of her family wants to donate his. Can June accept his heart? Picoult writes 400+ pages about how this decision affects several characters in Change of Heart.
Four Reasons I Do Not Recommend ‘Change of Heart’
1. It is Emotionally Manipulative
June Nealon’s car is hit by a drunk driver, killing her husband. Eventually, she remarries and is expecting a baby with her new husband. Unfortunately, the person they hire to help construct the nursery kills her new husband and four-year-old daughter. Afraid I’ve given too much away? Don’t worry, that’s just what happens in the first ten pages.
Picoult knows how to grip readers and tug at your heartstrings. The thing is, I don’t like made-for-TV movies that are ridiculously sad and were obviously written to give women an excuse for having a good cry. That’s what Change of Heart felt like.
2. Too Much Rehashing, Too Little Real Development
Picoult’s style is to switch viewpoints (and fonts) from chapter to chapter. The variety of voices keeps her books moving even when there isn’t 400+ pages of plot. While I was reading, it was easy to keep going, which is a plus. On the other hand, I never really wondered what was going to happen after I put the book down because the reality was that there was not much plot development, just a lot of soul-searching characters working through the inevitable.
3. The Characters are Caricatures
For a book that relies so heavily on voice to keep the pages turning, the characters were surprisingly unlikable and under-developed.4. The Information about the Gnostic Gospels is Misleading
Though Picoult writes fiction, it is no secret that she chooses controversial topics that make people ask hard questions. She acknowledges researching her topics before writing, so when the characters in her novels who are “experts” rant about this or that, I expect their arguments to be a credible representation of a certain viewpoint.
In Change of Heart, Picoult’s characters encounter the Gospel of Thomas, one of the “Gnostic gospels” that is not included in the Bible. One character, a priest, has his faith shaken when he realizes there is a fifth “gospel that hadn’t made it into the Bible but was equally as ancient” (220). This is one of many places where information about the Gnostic gospels is misleading. The scholarly consensus is that the four gospels that are included in the Bible were written between 70 and 100 AD, and that the Gospel of Thomas was written no earlier than 175 AD. Although that may sound “equally ancient,” if you think about it in modern terms, it becomes clear that someone who wrote a firsthand account of the Civil War 40 years after it happened would have much more credibility than someone claiming to write a firsthand account today.
While I think a plot that encourages readers to question the basis of their religious beliefs is an excellent idea, it angered me that Picoult built this plot by having the characters who were religious experts make inaccurate and misleading statements about church history.
The Bottom Line
I didn’t like Change of Heart, but I still thought it was a page turner. Picoult knows how to write emotionally gripping books that are quick reads. If you are a member of the Pi-Cult (her fan club), you will probably enjoy Change of Heart. If not, I wouldn’t read it.