The story is set about a mother (June) who lost her first husband in a car accident then married a police officer, Kurt, who raised Elizabeth, the first husband's daughter. Kurt and Elizabeth get killed by Shay, the house's carpenter.
The mystery surrounding the character Shay and his attitude struck me and I had to figure out what he truly was. He was sentenced to death and after waiting 11 years in prison for his fate, things become exceedingly interesting for truth reveals it self eventually. Once inside the prison, Shay was somehow responsible of turning water into wine, bringing back a bird from dead, healing an inmate from AIDs completely, multiplying food from one item. This whole drama caused people outside the prison and inside to mistake him for Jesus or a Messiah.
Meanwhile, Shay claimed nothing about himself of that sort that Micheal, a saint and a member of Shay's jury who convicted him years ago, struggles to heal the inmate's soul. Shay then fascinates Micheal by quoting some of Jesus' sayings that is not written in any gospels of Bible but on the mysterious gospel of Thomas, written two thousand years ago.
Father Micheal doubted that Shay would have read such a rare book given his condition of having difficulty in speaking, writing and reading. Shay all the while insisted on donating his heart after his death to Claire, Elizabeth's sister and June's daughter from Kurt. An attorney, Maggie, fights alongside Shay and Micheal to make Shay's final wish happen by insisting on taking an alternative manner of death sentence which is none other than hanging since it only causes brain-death and keeps the heart functioning.
At this point Picoult captivates her readers by a thought-provoking situation when June, the mother, decides on either forgoing the past or accepting Shay's heart that will somehow ensures her daughter's Claire transplant and would give her years to live.
The ending sparks endless questions on my mind so I wouldn't ruin it for you, except that if I ever got the change of asking Picoult anything it would be these;
What is Shay exactly? How could he revive the dead and do other miracles?
How can he insist on going to jail instead of someone else?
How did he know things of other people's lives?
When and why did he steal Micheal's grandfather's picture?
Personal Opinion: Philosophy and religions were mentioned a lot in this book that I would have skipped some pages if it weren't for the thought-provoking storyline and to admit that this book kept my insominac for three long nights isn't an exaggeration for it deserves more than just this.
My rating: 8/10, Picoult continues to amaze me.
I recommend it to whoever's interested in knowing how's it like to be in prison, and how to make up your mind on the hardest decisions. If you're interested in the philosophy of religions and faiths with an unfolding social event then this is the right book for you. Give it a try, you won't regret it.