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Harvesting the Heartby Jodi Picoult
Synopses & Reviews
Jodi Picoult earned rave notices for her debut novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale. Now this gifted young writer turns her considerable literary talents to the story of a young woman overcome by the demands of having a family. Written with astonishing clarity and evocative detail, convincing in its depiction of emotional pain, love, and vulnerability, Harvesting the Heart recalls the writing of Alice Hoffman and Sue Miller.
Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters and explores issues and emotions readers can relate to.
Picoult (Songs of the Humpback Whales) brings her considerable talents to this contemporary story of a young woman in search of her identity. Abandoned by her mother when she was five years old, Paige O'Toole has been left with painful doubts about her self-worth. She leaves her Chicago home for Cambridge, Mass., at 18 to fulfill herself as an artist, but must work in a diner because she can't afford art school. When she marries Harvard medical student Nicholas Prescott, his parents disown him, disapproving of their Irish Catholic daughter-in-law. Again Paige is forced to sideline her creative needs and work as a waitress in order to support Nicholas until he is able to establish his career as a cardiac surgeon. Paige is soon overwhelmed by the demands of Nicholas's socially sophisticated world, and after the birth of their son, Max, she becomes emotionally and physically exhausted. Unable to communicate her terrors about herself to Nicholas, she leaves him to search for her mother, who may hold the answers to her life. Told in flashbacks, this is a realistic story of childhood and adolescence, the demands of motherhood, the hard paths of personal growth and the generosity of spirit required by love. Picoult's imagery is startling and brilliant; her characters move credibly through this affecting drama. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Leaving Time
Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who abandoned her at five years old. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence and shameful memories of her past force her to doubt whether she could ever be capable of bringing joy and meaning into the life of her child, gifts her own mother never gave.
Harvesting the Heart is written with astonishing clarity and evocative detail, convincing in its depiction of emotional pain, love, and vulnerability, and recalls the writing of Alice Hoffman and Kristin Hannah. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters, and explores motherhood with a power and depth only she is capable of.
A brilliant, moving examination of motherhood, brimming with detail and emotion.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
Jodi Picoult explores the fragile ground of ambivalent motherhood in her lush second novel. This story belongs to the lucky reader.” —The New York Times Book Review
The author of Picture Perfect "explores the fragile ground of ambivalent motherhood" (New York Times Book Review). Paige's mother left when she was five. When Paige becomes a mother herself, she is overwhelmed by the demands. Unable to forget her past, Paige struggles with the difficulties of marriage and motherhood.
About the Author
Jodi Picoult is the 2003 New England Book Award Winner for Fiction, honoring her for her body of work.
Picoult was born and raised — happily — on Long Island. "I had such an uneventful childhood that much later, when I was taking writing classes at college, I called home and yelled at my mother, wishing for a little incest or abuse on the side," recalls Picoult. "Good writers, I thought at the time, had to have something to write about. It took me a while to realize that I already did have something to write about — that solid core of family, and of relationships, which seem to form a connective thread through my books."
Her novels, which all center on what it means to love someone, have come out in rapid-fire succession: Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), which Picoult wrote when she was six months pregnant with her first child; Harvesting the Heart (1994), which she describes as a reflection of her feelings as a new mother — and her most emotionally autobiographical novel; Picture Perfect (1995); Mercy (1996), a novel about married love and if it's really 50/50 (Picoult says she and husband Tim are still debating this); The Pact (1998); Keeping Faith (1999); Plain Truth (2000); Salem Falls (2001); Perfect Match; and Second Glance 2003 .
Picoult says she really learned to write at Princeton, where she studied creative writing with Mary Morris, who urged her to submit a story to Seventeeen magazine. Picoult was stunned when they published it and a second story a bit later. "That's when I thought I could be a writer," says Picoult.
However, when she graduated from Princeton, she headed not for the word processor, but for Wall Street, and followed that with stints at a textbook publishing company and an ad agency. She also taught creative writing part-time at a high school, got her master's degree in education at Harvard, and married Tim, whom she'd known at Princeton. Soon she was pregnant and had written a thousand page manuscript, which became Songs of the Humpback Whale.
It took a while, but Picoult says she has reconciled writing and motherhood. "I'm a better mother because I have my writing and I'm a better writer because of the experiences of motherhood that have shaped me." At this point, Picoult sees her list of novels growing, but not her family.
"There's nothing more interesting than crawling into a character's head — a head I created, that nonetheless seems to have a mind all its own."
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