I know there is a huge Jodi Picoult fan base out there, but up until now I have yet to delve into one of her emotionally fraught stories. If you haven’t heard of her, she is the author of My Sister’s Keeper which was adapted into a movie starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin back in 2009. According to NoveList (the amazing book database that allows you to search for every title and author under the sun, plus find book recommendations based on your reading preferences), Picoult can be described as writing stories that take “controversial newsworthy issues and examines them through the eyes of ordinary people… present(ing) both sides of an issue, Picoult allows readers to feel sympathetic towards characters on opposing sides of a conflict.” In reading Sing You Home this summer, I certainly have gotten a good sense of exactly that.
Sing You Home is about a once married couple (Zoe and Max) who tried unsuccessfully for years to conceive a child. Post divorce, Max, a surfer and landscaper, seeks refuge in the bottle (an old habit he semi-kicked while with Zoe) and Zoe, a music therapist, winds up falling in love with a woman named Vanessa. After a whirl wind romance, they get married in another state where same sex marriage is legal. Max on the other hand hits rock bottom and becomes a born again Christian with the help of his brother and sister-in-law (also struggling with infertility issues). After all that background, the plot really develops around the property/custody (depending on your point of view) battle over 3 embryos that Max and Zoe still have frozen for future use. It becomes an emotionally-charged debate over the concept of family, same sex parenting and religion.
I have to give it to Picoult – she has an excellent way of articulating both sides of the coin through the eyes of the three main characters. I’ll admit that I often get home from my drive (I’m listening to the audiobook) and am so caught up in the dialogue that I rant to the first person I see (this is usually my dog) about what’s happening in the story. Since I enjoy books where I’m engaged with the characters, this one has been right up my ally. The writing is straightforward (perfect for driving) and the suspense that’s building is intense. I’m currently on the second last disc and I’m dying to know what happens in the end to all these distraught people. I’ve heard from some readers that Picoult’s books typically follow the same formula, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you enjoy reading the same types of stories. How do you think James Patterson or Danielle Steel got to be so popular and successful?! Overall, this is an easy-to-read page turner that will be sure to evoke some significant emotion.
If you’re a fan of Picoult’s writing and story lines, try some of these authors (like I heard a customer say this morning, there is no shortage of reading material available at the library!):