The Written Art of Jodi Picoult

July 30, 2017
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People spin chaotic webs of controversial topics and Jodi Picoult is the one who untangles us all. A young woman has spent her life trying to understand why she was faced with protest when all she needed to do was rid herself of the baby that would kill her. Jodi Picoult takes her hand and explains why. The black man cowers underneath the hateful sentences of those who do not believe black lives matter. Jodi Picoult lays her hand on his back and comforts him with the story of another just like him. Out of the shadows, she appears as the person who will help us understand it all. Her name is Jodi Picoult, the woman who handles controversial topics undeniably well.
Jodi Picoult, the bestselling author of twenty-three novels, has left her audience captivated. She has almost 14 million copies of her books in circulation around the world. She’s not stopping there either. She has a widely anticipated novel in progress called “Small Great Things”. She’ll be tackling the some of the most profound issues of our time: prejudice, race, and justice.

Most of her novels involve heavy topics like these, the kind nobody voluntarily talks about. For instance, in her novel “The Pact”, she wrote about teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, and suicide. Her other novel “Change of Heart” dealt with the death penalty and religious beliefs.

One of the amazing things about her novels is the depth of them. Every one of them contains the social, legal, and emotional aspects of a controversial topic. For example, in “Change of Heart”, one of the lead male characters, Shay Bourne, was convicted and wanted to give his heart to a dying little girl who needed it, but he had to be killed a certain way to do so. In order to convince the legal system to approve his request, he had to claim this desire was part of his religious beliefs. He spurred protests from people for and against the death penalty as well as those who disagreed with his religious beliefs. As for the emotional side of the book, Picoult appealed to the audience’s empathy and compassion. The reader is able to see the point of view of Shay, who at one point repeatedly banged his head on the prison wall, leaving him half-dead, because he didn’t want the little girl to die while the court was still deciding. The reader also sees the perspective of the mother, who is torn between letting her child live and giving her the heart of a convict.

It is definitely difficult to be apathetic or ignore the message when a character is completely broken down or is facing one of the toughest decisions of their life.  After all, it is natural for humans to feel empathy. This strategy causes people to actually read and think instead of seeing a bunch of facts and automatically disagreeing or agreeing. Because she does this kind of thing in each of her novels, people are able to see the topic from all angles. Usually, people don’t focus on the big picture when thinking about or discussing a controversial topic, which makes it hard for them to understand it better and makes it even harder to change their minds or to reason with them.

One may still ask why she is able to address these topics so well. She writes fiction, which makes it much easier to deal with the reality of the topics. People are able to use fiction as a way to understand those issues, “just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather…”, as said by Annie Murphy Paul in the article “Your Brain on Fiction”. Not being personally involved in a situation allows people to think about a topic without feeling attacked or offended or anything of that sort. Moreover, fiction relates to the emotional aspect of her writing mentioned earlier. Readers of fiction can become attached to the characters in the book. If something unfortunate happens to a character they like, the reader can become upset. This works in her favor because people are more willing to listen to what she has to say about any given topic.

Jodi Picoult has established herself as a great, dare I say amazing, author.  As readers, though, it is your job to appreciate what you have been given. You can choose to think. Don’t do the bare minimum. Everybody can read, but only those who choose to can truly understand what they are reading.

If her books aren’t enough to settle your thoughts on a topic, do a bit of research. Although it may seem surprising, she researches every topic she writes about. She never goes in blind. In the back of her books, one can find a description of the research she goes through, and it’s never just one type. She does research online, interviews with people, reads, and more. It really is quite impressive.

Jodi Picoult is able to present controversial topics and different views on them while keeping the reader interested. She is creative with her fiction but includes the facts of the situation. Reading her books can give a person an entirely different perspective. So why not pick up one of her books and see where it takes you?

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