Creator / Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is a prolific American author, whose books tend towards family drama and relationships typically set around a court case, though she also did a stint on Wonder Woman at one point. Four of her books have been adapted into Lifetime Original movies, while a fifth, My Sister's Keeper, was adapted into a feature film in 2009.

Works with a page on this wiki:

Other Works:

  • Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992)
  • Harvesting the Heart (1994)
  • Picture Perfect (1995)
  • Mercy (1996)
  • Keeping Faith (1999)
  • Plain Truth (2000)
  • Salem Falls (2001)
  • Perfect Match (2002)
  • Second Glance (2003)
  • The Tenth Circle (2006)
  • Change of Heart (2008)
  • Leaving Home: Short Pieces (2011)
  • Between the Lines (2012)
  • Lone Wolf (2012)
  • The Storyteller (2013)
  • Off the Page (2015)
  • Small Great Things (2016)


Picoult's work provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Of all sorts. A particularly favored type is the parent of the Littlest Cancer Patient / Ill Girl who considers themselves an exemplary parent because of their many sacrifices for their child... but completely fails to notice that they neglect the healthy sibling so badly that it borders on or becomes abuse.
  • All Take and No Give: Most of the mothers of an Ill Girl (or Boy) see themselves as constant "givers". Often, their motivation turns out to be rather more selfish than they would ever admit.
  • Because You Can Cope: The excuse given to the healthy siblings of ill children.
  • Billy Needs an Organ: Claire Nealon in Change Of Heart.
  • Character Overlap: A couple of her characters are featured prominently in multiple books, and a few others are mentioned in passing. The central characters of Keeping Faith also appear briefly in Change of Heart.
  • Child by Rape: In Salem Falls, Addie's deceased daughter Chloe was the result of a gang rape.
  • Creator Provincialism: According to Jodi Picoult, New England is full of sick or neglected children, Knight Templar Parents and various lonely lawyers with dysfunctional backgrounds. Picoult was born on Long Island, NY and now lives in New Hampshire.
  • Date Rape: The Tenth Circle focuses on a fourteen-year-old girl who accuses her ex-boyfriend, a popular hockey player, of date-raping her at a party.
  • Double-Meaning Title:
    • Change Of Heart referring both to the heart transplant and the back-and-forth as several characters try to weigh up the emotional dilemmas.
    • Keeping Faith is about a mother trying to keep her daughter Faith in a custody battle and keep faith in her everyday life.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • In Harvesting The Heart, Paige O'Toole leaves her husband Nicholas for 3 months, then stalks him for a month or two, but Nicholas still takes her back (possibly; the ending leaves some room for interpretation).
    • In Plain Truth, after winning Katie's case, lawyer Ellie lets it slide when she finds out Katie's mother either committed infanticide or tampered with the scene of the death so that it was ambiguous what really happened, risking Katie's imprisonment for the murder.
  • Flower Motifs: Mercy uses these time to time; unsurprising considering one of the main characters owns a flower shop.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted in Harvesting the Heart. Paige O'Toole gets pregnant when she is 17 and aborts the baby. When she meets Nicholas and marries him she feels guilty when they first have sex because he believes her to be a virgin and she hasn't corrected him. Later, after leaving him to find her mother she confesses to him tearfully that she had an abortion. He, of course, is angry.
  • Happily Married: Often the main couple will start out this way, but whether or not they stay that way goes up in the air.
  • High-School Sweethearts: In almost all her books, the main couple will be high school sweethearts.
  • Hot for Student:
    • Laura Stone is with one of her students the night her daughter is date raped in The Tenth Circle.
    • In Salem Falls, the inverse appears with a student crushing on her teacher. The teacher in question is accused and even convicted of having had an affair with her, though nothing actually happened.
  • Ill Girl:
    • Claire from Change of Heart needs a heart transplant. The mother is willing to do anything for her child — but she refuses a transplant from the murderer who killed her husband.
    • Faith from Keeping Faith has moments like this as well, when she is hospitalized due to her apparent stigmata.
  • Informed Ability: The father's "ambitious" and "brilliant" comics in The Tenth Circle.
  • "Jeopardy!" Intelligence Test: An ex-con in Salem Falls does this every night. He started doing it to protect himself from Prison Rape by making a bet with the other convicts that he could always beat the scores of the televised contestants. His passion for the show is key to getting the student he supposedly seduced to confess that she made the whole thing up.
  • Karma Houdini: In Perfect Match, Nina gets away with murdering Father Szyszynski, the man accused of molesting her son, and Caleb gets away with murdering Father Gwynne, the man who actually did it.
  • Little Miss Almighty: Faith in Keeping Faith is assumed to be the Second Coming of Jesus.
  • Love Father, Love Son: In Second Glance, a man falls in love with a ghost and ends up with her granddaughter.
  • Magic Realism:
    • In Change of Heart, Shay Bourne is somehow able to cure one of his cellmates of AIDS and cause water to turn into wine. In fact, a priest specifically sees him as a Jesus-analogue. The main focus of the book, however, is on the ramifications of the death penalty. The trope is in fact double-subverted because some of his miraculous acts have mundane explanations, but then the little girl who he donated his heart to miraculously brings her dog back to life.
    • In Harvesting the Heart, Paige has the ability to draw pictures of people and weave some of their hidden memories or desires into the drawing. The focus of that book is mainly on Paige's problems with being a mother.
  • Mama Bear: Perfect Match is about a woman who shoots and kills a man who she believes molested her five-year-old son.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Apparently messianic acts done by/happened to Shay Bourne in Change of Heart. Some of them are explained away as being definitely mundane, but it remains unclear whether all are. The ending involves Claire performing a similarly messianic act after the heart transplant.
  • Meaningful Name: In Keeping Faith, Faith is a little girl who starts showing signs of being a Messianic Archetype. Also, since Faith is believed by some to be the Second Coming of Jesus, it's fitting that her mother is named Mariah, a variant of Mary.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • The main plot of Mercy is the trial of a man who mercy killed his wife.
    • The Storyteller centers around a former Nazi who asks the protagonist to end his life. She eventually does it.
  • Messianic Archetype:
    • Shay Bourne in Change of Heart performs apparent miracles.
    • Faith in Keeping Faith. A little girl named Faith starts showing signs of being the Messiah after her parents divorce. It starts when she begins reciting Bible passages, even though the only religion she was exposed to was Judaism (and not very much at that). She then starts seeing her "Guard" (a female God), brings her dead grandmother back to life, heals an AIDS sufferer, and develops stigmata (holes in the hands where the nails went into Jesus' hands on the cross). After custody is given to her mother Mariah, all of her messianic acts stop, making it seem like they were just ploys for attention. But it is left ambiguous as to whether she still gets visits from her "Guard".
  • Missing Mom:
    • Paige O'Toole's mother, in Harvesting The Heart.
    • As well as Paige herself for a couple months.
  • Motherhood Is Superior: Turns up in a lot of books. Deconstructed, though, in that the women that have this belief are Tautological Templar-type antagonists that use this as the centerpoint of their martyr complex and more often than not they drag the entire family down to Hell with them.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: Uses this in several of her novels.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: In Plain Truth, the plot revolves around a deceased newborn having been found in an Amish family's barn, with no one having been aware of the pregnancy. At first, it suggests that the mother had been in the dark about her pregnancy as well, but it becomes clear later that she had worked it out and not told anyone for fear of the repercussions. And the girl's mother had figured it out as well, but not mentioned it.
  • Nazi Grandpa: The Storyteller revolves around an elderly man who is a fixture in his community, who confesses to the protagonist that he was a Nazi who served at Auschwitz during the war.
  • No Sympathy: Many of her characters (especially the mothers) are completely obsessed with the feelings and suffering of one specific person, but oblivious to the pain of everyone else around them — even within their own families.
  • Parental Incest: Right at the end of Salem Falls.
  • Pedophile Priest: Perfect Match is about a woman whose son has been molested by a Catholic priest.
  • Rape as Backstory: Addie in Salem Falls.
  • Rape as Drama: The plot of The Tenth Circle.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In Perfect Match, after a man is accused of molesting the protagonist's five-year-old son, she walks into the middle of the courtroom and shoots him in the head four times. Afterwards, she pleads insanity, her defense boiling down to "I'd have to be crazy to kill someone in a courtroom, right?"
  • The Rez: Mentioned in Harvesting the Heart, when Nicholas volunteers medical services at a Hopi reservation.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The ideas for her novels often come from actual events.
  • Strictly Formula: All her books have the same (general) formula: People (usually centering on the woman) living a normal life (in some New England town), something big happens/happened to them (i.e. husband is cheating, child is arrested) and there ends up being a court case either involving family members (i.e a family member committed a crime) or involving family members suing each other. Usually the court case involves children or teens. Expect one child to be severely ill and wiser than their years. The parents will/already did forget about the other child, if there is one. It is often a Tear Jerker, but is successful because of that (the judge/jury feels sorry for the defendant). Usually there is a Shocking Swerve near the end, and somebody dies.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Common in many of her novels, including Keeping Faith, among others.
  • Tzadikim Nistarim: Mentioned in Keeping Faith, with Faith believed to be one.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Paige and Jake in Harvesting The Heart.
  • Window Pain: In Salem Falls, a Molotov cocktail is thrown through the main character's window after it becomes common knowledge that he was previously convicted of rape. It's discovered before it can cause too much damage, and it is implied that it was poorly made and intended to send a message rather than cause real damage.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • In Lone Wolf, the real reason Edward left home was his walking in on his father sleeping with a college student, apparently not for the first time.
    • The sub-plot of Mercy is about Cam cheating on his wife Addie with Mia, who was Addie's new employee at her flower shop.
    • The plot of Keeping Faith kicks off when Mariah and Colin divorce after Mariah and Faith walk in on Colin in the shower with his mistress. It is later revealed that this was not Colin's first affair, nor even the first time he was caught.
    • In The Tenth Circle, Laura is having an affair with one of her students, and was with him the night her daughter was date-raped.
    • In The Storyteller, the protagonist Sage is having an ongoing affair with Adam, a married man.

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