I had high hopes for this book, because I've enjoyed Naslund's previous books, especially Ahab's Wife and Abundance. Unfortunately, this book was a grI had high hopes for this book, because I've enjoyed Naslund's previous books, especially Ahab's Wife and Abundance. Unfortunately, this book was a grave disappointment. It seems like Naslund was trying to do something a little different with Adam & Eve. The result is dialogue filled with non-sequiturs, plot points that are left dangling, and characters who say and do things with no apparent motivation or that are directly at odds with what they have said and done previously (with no accounting for the switch). Although Naslund is to be praised for trying something new, I hope that in her next book she will return to the style that has previously served her (and her readers) so well....more
Jodi Picoult has once again tackled a moral dilemma. Up for debate this time is whether the mother of a girl in need of a heart transplant should acceJodi Picoult has once again tackled a moral dilemma. Up for debate this time is whether the mother of a girl in need of a heart transplant should accept the heart of the man who will be executed for the murder of her husband and older daughter. And if Picoult had stuck to one dilemma, this might have been a better book. Instead, the book is complicated by Green Mile-like questions of whether the condemned man had the power to perform miracles and a Dead Man Walking-like last-hour relationship between the death row inmate and a priest.
In typical Picoult fashion, there is no clear right and wrong in this story. Shay Bourne, the convicted man, does not really contest his conviction, or his sentence. He simply insists that he must be allowed to donate his heart afterward, despite the fact that being executed by lethal injection would make this impossible. Enter an ACLU lawyer, with issues of her own, who's determined to get Bourne executed in a way that would allow for his heart to be taken, and, by so doing, turn a spotlight on the inhumanity of the death penalty.
Her argument is that Bourne's religion requires that he be allowed to donate his heart in order for him to find salvation. Here is where the issue of his "miracles" come in. When he supposedly makes wine flow from the taps in the prison, divides a single piece of gum among 7 men, and heals the prisoner in the next cell who is dying of AIDS, word leaks out and people flock to the prison gates, proclaiming the Second Coming. Naturally, there are an equal number on the other side who think he's a fraud or even the devil. Whatever the truth of the matter is, and we're left wondering, Maggie Bloom, the ACLU lawyer, uses these "miracles" and some of Bourne's own words to try to convince the court that he belongs to a religion, even if he's the only member of it, that requires organ donation as necessary to salvation. And here I have to give Picoult credit: what other popular author manages to work the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) into a novel?!
Although well written as all of Picoult's books are, the multiple threads and questions keep this one from being as good as it ought to have been. Hopefully, in her next book she will go back to presenting us with a with just one moral dilemma, as she has done so well so many times before....more
I just did not know what to make of this book. The voices of the characters are very well-written, I could hear the Midwestern small-town twang in soI just did not know what to make of this book. The voices of the characters are very well-written, I could hear the Midwestern small-town twang in so much of the dialogue and narration. And if the book had been a story of small-town life, I probably would have loved it. But this is the story of how Vernon Moore comes to this small town and allegedly changes the lives of so many of its residents. Moore's origins are a mystery, as is what he's actually doing in the town. But while he's there, he manages to convince several residents to have hope in the existence of God and an afterlife, all through using rational thought and mathematical probability. Knowing that Shaffner has also written a non-fiction book on the same subject made me feel as though I'd been tricked into reading a lecture. Nonetheless, the book is well-written and, for the most part, a pleasant way to read about the author's philosophical ideas. Still, I would have liked to see more about the characters, not to say some character development that could be explained by something in addition to the revelations from the entire town's new best friend, Vernon Moore....more
I was really not enjoying this book until I got to the very end, which almost made up for the turgidness of the prose. The last chapter saved the bookI was really not enjoying this book until I got to the very end, which almost made up for the turgidness of the prose. The last chapter saved the book from getting an even lower rating.
This is a story of Vera, a young woman (much younger than she acts) who sets off to pick up the body of her brother who has washed up on the shore of a small Maine island. How we got there, and why he doesn't appear to have aged in 13 years, are the "mystery" of the book. The answer, when it is finally revealed, is fairly straightforward, and not unsatisfying.
In the course of finding that out, though, Vera must deal with her own guilt over not stopping her brother from running away, and her belief that her "visions" of what happened to her brother are actually punishments from God. She must also deal with unkind islanders, a "ghost", and a too-handsome man (with a wandering eye) who might be friend or might be foe.
One might suppose that all of those factors would combine to make a compelling story. Alas, that is not the case. Dickson gets too bogged down in his first-person narration to let the story run naturally. We are teased with hints and glimpses of what's really going on, but Vera's overdrawn naivete prevents us from finding anything in the story that will allow us to be drawn in....more