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Friday, June 1, 2012

Recent Reads: "Change of Heart" and "The Secret"

"Change of Heart"

I just finished reading "Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult, c. 2008.  I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. For some reason it makes me uncomfortable.  I can really tell that Ms. Picoult did so much hard work and research during the process of writing this book.  It covers so many different areas, including: religion, lost books of the Bible, Gnosticism, the death penalty, foster care, sexual abuse, crisis of faith, the death of a child, the ACLU, body image, mother-daughter relationships, heart transplants, living in prison, art in prison, foolish people, short-term miracles, falling in love ... and I am sure that I am leaving some things out. Though life is full of such topics, in a book setting too many topics leave me feeling jumbled.

Told through the eyes of Maggie, Michael, Lucius and June, this is the story about a convicted killer, Shay, who wants to donate his heart to the sister of the child he killed, because she will die without it.  Okay, that is a good storyline.  But then we are asked to believe that perhaps Shay could really be Jesus incarnate.  That really rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.  It just didn't seem to ring true with this guy, though he did create quite a following of folks desperate for help. 

The characters of Maggie, Lucius and June do seem pretty real, but I had problems with Michael. Michael is the priest who was on Shay's jury eleven years before; a man who feels guilty about helping to send Shay to death row.  He just didn't seem very believable to me.  I wish that somehow Ms. Picoult could have "shown" me Micheal rather than "told" me about him.

I think that one of the author's points is to show that everything comes back full circle, but there was just too much in this book.  I did read it rather quickly, and it is 447 pages long.  I just don't think that I will read it over again ... the true test of whether or not I love a book.  I liked this one okay, but I didn't love it. 

One thing that I found to be a great idea in this book is that they changed fonts with the main characters voices, so you knew who you were reading about immediately.  I'd turn the page at the end of a chapter and think, oh, no, not Michael, lol.

"The Secret"

After I finished the "Change of Heart", I picked up another book that was loaned to me at the same time. This book is not a novel, and is non-fiction.  I remember hearing about it when it first came out, and that Oprah talked about it a lot.  There is a movie about it also (I haven't seen it) about interviewing people who are experts at practicing "The Secret".  It is about the law of attraction, Quantum physics and the power of positive thinking.  This book is apparently also very controversial, and many have claimed that they were duped and that what they learned from it eventually hurt them more than helped them. 

I suppose for some folks, "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne c. 2006, has turned into their religion after reading it, and that is where the trouble can begin.  So far, I see it as a set of tools that you can use and incorporate into everyday living.  In fact, over the years, I have already learned a lot of this stuff, the parts that come down to goal setting and focusing on where you want to be in life.  Kind of like the idea of where you concentrate your energy is where things will grow.  If you concentrate on saying what you want instead of what you don't want, you are more likely to get it.

It is an interesting book.  

Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed with some downtime in my life (just meaning that work was slow, and I have had more time to write, think and reflect on things).  I have forgiven people and generally feel peaceful and full of joy.  I have tried to stay away from drama-filled folks and to pray more for those who bother me.  I have tried to be more consciously positive, and even my blog's slogan is "Celebrate the positive!"  That slogan has helped me, because that means that I don't write about negative things on here very often, unless it is to show how I have overcome a situation.  "The Secret" reminds me of that way of thinking.

So, read it if you want to; and don't read it if you don't.  I have skimmed through the "summaries and short-cuts" and am now reading this little, easy-to-read book from cover to cover to see what else it has to offer. 

To learn more about "The Secret", here is the Wikipedia link which you can access by "clicking here".  Have you read it?  If so, what did you think?  Did the principles laid out in this book help or hinder you, or were they just neutral?  I'd love to hear your opinion!

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Kathy A. Johnson said...

I haven't read Change of Heart, but I have a feeling from your description that I'd have a similar reaction. It does seem like a lot of themes to pack into one book, and I also think the "different fonts for different points of view" is a clever idea. Not sure if in practice I would find it helpful or distracting, or if I would end up skipping chapters!

I did read The Secret a few years ago, possibly when it first came out. Also like you, I found some things about it helpful. It was one of the first things I read about the laws of attraction/positive thinking, and it was a pretty good introduction.

Arkansas Patti said...

I have read most of Jody's books and enjoyed them. The premise sounds interesting so if I can get it from the library, I will give it a shot. You have planted enough doubt that I probably won't buy.
Don't think the Secret is my kind of book.
Thanks for your reviews. Very helpful.

Linda Reeder said...

Well, thanks for the reviews. I'll skip both of them.

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like there's a lot going on in Change of Heart. Like Patti, I would probably not purchase it, but I might give it a shot if borrowed.

I'm not sure about the blurb on the back of The Secret. It sounds a bit bogus to claim this "secret" has been passed down by great thinkers for centuries.


I read The Secret and I was non plussed. I've much preferred The Celestine Prophecy, where it altered certain responses I had toward certain people, and if I remember correctly, the 3rd book makes you look back at your family tree and what previous generations left you with. It is at that time that I found some better understanding, empathy and even forgiveness toward my mother, but not so much toward my father, still to this day. I guess that won't happen in this lifetime...
Oh well!
Nobody's perfect,
not even me!!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thanks, everybody, I have enjoyed your comments and input very much. Since writing this, I haven't kept on reading The Secret. I went back to my old way of old-fashioned prayer, asking for guidance, trying to make good choices and putting in some hard work.

I am trying to redirect negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate a reminder of that awareness.



Whatever works for you
can't be wrong!!

No Copying!


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