Tag Archives: Jodi Picoult

Interview with Judy Balan


As I walked in to the bookstore for the launch of Judy Balan’s debut novel, Two Fates: The Story of my Divorce, I was greeted with a sweet smile and a hint of a rollicking time!
I managed to get Judy’s time and attention before the launch and indulged in a candid interview.
On enquiring about the ideation of the story, she was quick to respond, “I happened to be in a store   and noticed Drink, Play, F@ck, the parody of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the    parody had managed to sell film rights to his book and I thought, “Wow! You can simply rip off a  best seller and do wonders!” I was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States: The Story of my Marriage”,  and I thought of doing a parody of the book.
I went home, and posted this incident on my blog and asked my readers if they thought it was a good idea. And most of them reverted with a “yes”. Would you believe it only took me about less than three months to wrap up the book!” smiled the author. Continuing her part of the story, she said, “And it was a wonderful experience. I was surprised as to how quickly I even found publishers willing to launch my book. It truly felt like a Cinderella moment…”

So do we see glimpses of her life in this book? “No no! This is definitely not the story of my divorce,” Judy responded quickly. “In fact the only thing common between me and the character of Deepika is the job (as a copywriter).”
“Oh and the aunties of course! The ones who keep coming up to me or my parents enquiring about my age, and they seem to be obsessing about my marriage and my divorce more than my folks. It’s hilarious (now) but it is so true!”
Digging a bit in to her professional background I enquired about her decision to be a “full time parent”.
“Well, even after those five and a half years in the advertising agency as a copywriter I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied doing what I was doing. I was scared to quit initially as I did not know what I would do next. Quitting was not an option but when my divorce came through I knew I had to dedicate time to my girl. The ups and downs of divorce were terrible. I took up freelance writing and of course started blogging ardently.”
So how was life at home? “Very different. It was mundane, yes. It took me about a bit to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. There was a drastic change in momentum. But it gave me time to spend with my daughter and write. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ask her if she would plunge in to a marriage (or love) again and she chirps, “Why not! I’m a die-hard romantic. A million times bitten and still not shy sort of a person. Divorce hasn’t made me cynical. I’m the incurable optimistic who still writes letter to “the one”. If life gives me a chance to fall in love, I’d dive!”
As the focus shifted to her writing and her blog, she confessed “Blog writing gives you almost instant gratification. Your readers revert real quick. Writing a book, a fiction, needs commitment. It is hard work.”
For those who don’t know, Judy also writes scripts for plays. Her shyness prevents her from being on stage, but off-stage she seems to be the “queen of the written word”. “I would love to have a column someday, though my blog sometimes serves more like a column,” smiled Judy. “But writing an epic adventure series (like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) is one thing I look forward to. I know it’s a long long way yet, and for now I will focus on light fiction about relationships and break-ups.”
Humor and comedy is one key ingredient Judy feels that she cannot do without in the books she reads and pens. “If you’ve read Two States, you’d get all the jokes in my book”, confessed the author sheepishly.
“I do love romantic comedies. Nothing can quite beat Erich Segal’s Love Story and Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult’s works. I also like reading books by Candace Bushnell and Marian Keyes and Elizabeth Gilbert.”
Getting to the juicy part of the conversation, we asked Judy to share an exclusive detail about her as a writer and she confessed, “My writing will always precede the love of my life. I think I devote more time to my writing than anything else.”
And Judy as a mother? She quickly said, “I’m forever obsessing over the fact that I’m not good enough. Trust me, all that art and craft and wonderful things parents do for their kids, I’m bad at all that.”

Over more smiles and jokes I enquired about her next book and she said, “It’s wonderful how I’ve already signed the deal for my next book. It is again a light fiction. But I can’t give out much on it. You’ll have to wait a bit!”
For sure we would look forward to her next book, since her first one has definitely got us hooked!
It’s true all good things definitely come in small packages. And this package is amongst the best!
I’m sure she captured more hearts and readers with her smile and her book that evening.


Grab a copy of her book before the stores run out of copies! You will definitely enjoy the read.

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Book Review of “House Rules” By Jodi Picoult

House Rules

By Jodi Picoult


The story is about a teenager (Jacob Hunt) with Asperger’s syndrome (well researched information about the syndrome brings in the little uniqueness the book claims to present) who is charged with the murder of a girl (who was hired to help him with his social skills).
Jacob is a nerd with zero social skills but possesses super intelligence with a passion for forensic analysis.Though it’s a beautifully written plot, it holds no suspense, no thrill, and gives out an obvious and predictably disappointing climax. Ample of controversy, multiple perspectives, legal conflicts, court-room drama dragging into lengthy conversations make it a bit monotonous. Moreover, most of her books follow a certain formula of approach, which by now has become unappealing.

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Book Review of “Handle With Care” By Jodi Picoult

Handle With Care

By Jodi Picoult

Well, this one seems to be a mixed bag of emotions. The ideation is bright but delivered in a some-what sloppy manner. By the end of it all it seems like the controversial topic was chosen just to keep Picoult’s formulaic trend running . Her knack to tackle tough subjects with ample twists seems to be disappearing.

The story is about a family with two daughters – the younger born with a rare disease – osteogenesis imperfecta, and how the family endures it all. With a bit ofcontroversial and heart-wrenching moments (about the younger daughter); the feelings of sympathy for the neglected bulimic elder; complex characterization; confused or rather inarticulate parents, the story flows at a slow pace but the climax seems very artificial.Yes, she does raise very logical and moving points – would you ever abort yourbaby if you know that it will be born with a disability? And if you proceed with such a pregnancy, how would you protect the baby from a lifetime of pain and suffering and how would you provide for the baby’s well-being for the rest of his/her life? Her insights are amazing and they sure make you ponder over a lot of things you generally would’ve taken for granted.

Apart from this central theme, the story has other issues that really appear mindless and an utter waste of time and energy.

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Book Review- “Change of Heart” by Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart

By Jodi Picoult

Essentially a fiction writer, Picoult picks up controversial topics for people to either dig deeper into the subject, or simply enjoy a highly entertaining read. Must say, Picoult’s in depth research before penning down the story or the characters (almost) authenticates the subject to the tee, making the viewpoints of the experts (in the story) (almost) credible.

This thought-provoking novel features a mix of stories. June Nealon has an eleven year old daughter (Claire) who is in dire need of a heart transplant.


June is desperately seeking a donor. And the one available is a death row inmate- I.M. Bourne a.k.a. Shay Bourne.

But here’s a twist. Shay is the same guy who had killer June’s ex-husband (a case of drunk driving) about ten years ago.

While in prison, Shay is known to have conducted miracles – like turning water into wine, reviving a dead bird, healing terminal illness, making him almost a “messiah”.

June is stunned and confused about the offer. But can’t seem to let go of what seems to be the only chance for her daughter’s survival.

The only thought she cannot fight is – whether she can forgive the killer of her ex-husband (and younger daughter) and accept his organ to save her dying child?

(I did not understand how an adult’s heart would match that of a minor?)

One incredible factor attributing to the success of this novel is the inclusion of Gnostic texts – namely the Gospel of Thomas that is not a part of the Bible, since it was believed to be written after 175 AD. Though somewhat misleading in claims, the work comprises 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Shay Bourne is portrayed as a man eerily similar to that described in the Gospel of Thomas.

Picoult does a good job of gripping her readers while striking the emotional cord through the short chapters of the book. She weaves in moral dilemma, courtroom drama, death penalty, crime, with surprising twists and ease – with the central theme of restorative justice.

The story is seen from different viewpoints which keep the pace going.

The characterization could have been a bit more developed, but that’s just my point of view.

But as Picoult puts it, in the bold, high-concept idiom of movie ads: “Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy’s dying wish?”

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Book Review- “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes By Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes

By Jodi Picoult

A thought provoking piece by Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes centers around a teenager who goes on a shooting rampage in his school.

Peter Houghton was never the “popular” kid in school. He always ended up being bullied by someone or the other, with no friends to his rescue…rather no friends at all.


The story is about how his elder brother never came to his rescue right from the first day of kindergarten; his childhood friend Josie abandoning him to join the “popular” cheerleader gang; his parents not understanding him through his worries. The peak of his patience is reached when he is gravely insulted and he ends up killing about 10 people and injuring 19 others, in nineteen minutes.

Josie’s mother presides over Peter’s trial and as the events are uncovered in search of truth, parents and children are shocked to realize the actions and behaviors that led to it all.

Picoults tact of smooth prose and driving narrative pace is one of the reasons it is difficult to put the book down once you start reading it. She portrays the emotional battles of the all the characters realistically, with a lot of ease.

The ideation though simple was delivered in a very impressive way. Hoards of emotions were explored addressing sensitive and difficult issues that are usually not discussed openly in the fear of bringing them to reality.

She spins a grasping tale of intolerance, fear, horror, insight, rage, depression, and varied other emotions that people generally choose to ignore.

The author’s extensive research on the subject reflects in the sensational plot (based on true scenarios). She coaxes readers to address issues that affect society at large.

Peter was driven into a situation where he took extreme violent measures. Had someone lent him a listening ear, or helped him overcome his fear, or stood by him, the tragedy wouldn’t be as drastic.

The book can truly help make the world a little kinder, stronger and maybe more safer for kids to grow up into understanding adults who respect and make space for others.

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