Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

There are times when reading a Jodi Picoult novel feels like watching a Lifetime television moviePicoult takes issues that are at the nexus of change and turns them into page-turners.  Picoult’s books sell regardless of the subject because her devoted readers love engaging with her characters and escaping into the complete worlds she creates. This time Picoult tackles gay rights and embryo “custody.”

Most Americans today are certain in their beliefs about why people are gay, whether they should marry and whether the Bible condemns homosexuality. But most Americans rarely, if ever, talk with those who disagree with their beliefs.  Picoult’s novel attempts to connect readers with gay and lesbian characters and with characters that consider them to be an abomination.  In doing so, Picoult offers readers a chance to learn arguments about both sides of the question and thus provides a book tailor-made for spirited book club discussions.

This novel also breaks new ground as it includes a CD of songs that are “sung” in the voice of the main character, a music therapist.  Picoult wrote the songs’ lyrics to correspond to the mood and voice of the chapters as they evolve.  This allows readers to get to know the main character in a new way.  It didn’t resonate with me but my guess is that many will enjoy it.

Zoe and Max Baxter have been trying to have children for years with no luck when Zoe has a miscarriage at her surprise baby shower - the shower she didn’t want to have.  Melodramatic, you bet.   Zoe and Max are not wealthy; all their money and emotions have gone into in vitro fertilization and Max is done with the emotional and financial toll. Zoe isn’t so they divorce. They agree so much about the terms and have so little that they don’t even hire a lawyer.   Ay, there’s the rub – they never addressed what would happen to their remaining embryos.   When Zoe falls in love, realizes she’s a lesbian and marries Vanessa, a counselor at her school, Vanessa offers to carry one of Zoe’s embryos.  But Max, a recovering alcoholic who’s been helped by a pastor and has moved in with his wealthy, right-wing brother, has other ideas.  Enter some larger than life lawyers and you have a page-turning court battle.  Picoult avoids stereotyping the main characters by telling the story from each of their view points.  With the wedding planner, a lawyer and some other minor characters the stereotyping diminishes the tale.  Regardless, this is a sure fire way to get book clubs talking

Summing it Up: Read this book no matter what your beliefs are about gay rights.  It’s a page-turner that will get many people talking.

Rating:  4 stars for stimulating a discussion and for immersing readers in worlds they may not know

Category: Fiction, Chinese Carryout, Book Club

Publication date: March 2, 2011

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  1. Today is Jodi Picoult's birthday, a birthday she shares with my daughter and me. If you love her writing, it would be a good day to begin reading "Sing You Home."

    Lorraine Hansberry and Nora Ephron are also celebrating birthdays today.

  2. I bought this book for my wife for Mother's Day (her first) because I know, based on her book shelf, she is a huge fan. She read it in two days. She did admit that the first two chapters are a heart wrenching, but once you get passed them the book pulls you in. Plus it came with a free CD!

    Charmaine Smith (Janitorial Service Seattle WA - Crest Cleaners Inc)