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Harvesting the Heart: A Novel [Paperback]

Jodi Picoult
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In her second novel, the author of Songs of the Humpback Whale ( LJ 5/15/92) recounts with power and grace a young woman's efforts to achieve "grandeur... andthe ability to be comfortable in the world." Paige O'Toole Prescott, a gifted portraitist, sets aside her art to support her husband, Nicholas, during his medical training. His wealthy parents reject Paige, who already suffers from self-doubt after being abandoned by her mother. Despite Nicholas's success as a surgeon and the young couple's love for each other, the birth of their son catapults them into emotional crisis. Paige's resulting quest for courage and self-confidence forces Nicholas, her parents, and her in-laws to reevaluate their attitudes, standards, and behavior. Picoult considers various forces that can unite or fracture families and examines the complexities of the human heart both literally and figuratively. Highly recommended.
- Jane S. Bakerman, Indiana State Univ., Terre Haute
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

An Irish Catholic whose mother left home when she was only five, Paige has a special talent. She often finds, buried in her drawings, images that others recognize as details of their pasts or their innermost longings. Overwhelmed by guilt after an abortion, Paige finishes high school and runs away from home instead of checking into the Rhode Island School of Design. She practices her art at her job (at a diner aptly called Mercy), sketching the customers in a promotion called the Chicken Doodle Soup Special. It's through her insightful portraits that she meets her husband-to-be, Nicholas Prescott, an egocentric medical student and future heart surgeon. His wealthy parents disown their son and estrange themselves from the young couple, and Paige works to help Nicholas through medical school. When their first child is born, Paige completely loses her self-confidence and embarks on a search to reestablish her identity and to find her own mother. Stranding the self-centered Nicholas with a new baby turns out not to be the worst possible decision, and the repercussions from this impulsive move help mend family rifts. Anne Gendler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An updated formulaic second novel (after Songs of the Humpback Whale, 1992) in which the young heroine not only finds herself but along the way comes to terms with that other contemporary women's issue: motherhood. Paige O'Toole is carrying many heavy burdens when she takes off for Cambridge, Massachusetts, after graduating from high school in Chicago. She's Irish Catholic--which, here, means: her father invents useless objects and dreams of Ireland; her mother ran out on her when she was only five; and she's had an abortion. Though Paige has been accepted at the Rhode Island School of Design, she can't go--though it's not entirely clear why--and so she works at a diner. There, she meets Nicholas Prescott, a Harvard med student who's blessed with such good fortune that he has nightmares about failure. The two fall in love, but the Prescott family doesn't approve of Paige, and so she has to work at two jobs to get Nicholas through school. Just as he's becoming a rising star in the cardiology department of Mass. General, Paige falls pregnant, which causes a few problems but nothing compared to what happens when son Max is born. Nicholas is exhausted by his rounds; Paige is exhausted by Max; and the two drift apart (they seem never to have heard of babysitters). Finally, unable to cope, Paige runs away: ``I had to go. I didn't have any other choice....I didn't want to leave forever...just long enough to feel that I wasn't doing it all wrong, that I mattered, that I wasn't an extension of Max's or Nicholas' life.'' She finds herself, her long-lost mom, realizes that she doesn't share her mother's irresponsibility, and heads back home--to Max, baby, and eventual happiness. Some good writing, but not enough to sustain a concept-driven and rather old-fashioned story, despite its occasional contemporary gloss. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Picoult writes with a fine touch, a sharp eye for detail, and a firm grasp of the delicacy and complexity of human relationships."
-The Boston Globe

"Picoult has become a master-almost a clairvoyant-at targeting hot issues and writing highly readable page-turners about them . . . It is impossible not to be held spellbound by the way she forces us to think, hard, about right and wrong."
-The Washington Post

About the Author

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.
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