It’s no secret that Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, and while I love her books, there have been some misses. However, Sing You Home is a hit, plain and simple. Picoult is known for tackling controversial issues in each of her books and this is no different. This particular novel encompasses such varied matters as: in-vitro fertilization, gay rights, discrimination, evangelical Christian beliefs, divorce, suicide and even unconvential therapy – in this case, music therapy. And in true Picoult fashion, Sing You Home is told from the perspective of three very different characters – Zoe, Vanessa and Max.
The one huge difference between Sing You Home and Picoult’s other books, is that Picoult teamed up with her friend Ellen Wilber to produce a soundtrack to this book. The CD is made up of 10 songs and is supposed to help give Zoe a voice. The intent is that you play the songs during the indicated moments of the book. However, I found that to be a small distraction, mainly because I was too impatient to do so. I just wanted to read! But I listened to the cd afterwards and it’s a beautiful cd. The music and lyrics give Sing You Home a truly haunting quality and truly brings Zoe to life. I highly recommend listening to the cd, whether it’s before, after or during the course of the book.
Once I actually sat down and read the book, I finished Sing You Home in about 24 hours. Each time I had to put it down I would have to make a deal with myself. “I’ll just read 2 more pages and then go make dinner.” Or even “Just one more chapter before bed.” Picoult’s writing is sublime. She doesn’t try to show off by throwing around huge vocabulary words or ridiculously long sentences. It’s simply fluid and poetic. Each character’s voice was well-defined and you were able to really see the story through each of their eyes, whether you liked that particular character or not.
The relationship between Zoe and Vanessa is beautiful and their struggle to gain the rights to the fertilized embryos is heartbreaking. Even with Max, as weak as he was, his struggles with his drinking and trying to come to terms with his ex-wife’s new identity was believable and very real. The court battle that ensues throughout the story is emotional. It actually brought me to tears a couple of times and several times I was cheering on Zoe’s lawyer Angela on as she went head to head with the loathsome Wade Preston and Ben Benjamin, Max’s lawyers.
But what I loved most of all about Picoult’s 18th novel, is the message. That it is not necessarily true that one mother + one father + children = family. But that family is simply made up of the people that love you and have your back. Whether they be blood related or chosen by their actions.(less)
I can’t lie. Rage is a very difficult book to read. It would be difficult for anyone to read even if they haven’t been in any sort of an abusive relationship. But for someone who has been in an abusive relationship, it’s extremely difficult. However, Julie Anne Peters writes with such a poetic grace that you cannot help but be sucked in.
Reeve is probably the most realistic character of the book. Her pain is real and obvious. She hates what she does to Johanna and yet, she doesn’t know how to control herself. She very much loves her twin brother Reeve and protects him as much as she possibly can. She can be selfish and yet at the same time she can be extremely unselfish. And that shows in every scene that she’s in with her brother.
Johanna has had an extremely difficult life. From the loss of both parents to the fact that her older sister (whom she adores) appears to have not been able to accept her sexuality to her relationship with Reeve. As much as I wanted to like her, I had a really hard time doing so. Johanna is basically a doormat. She pretty much lets everyone walk all over her. For most of the book, I found myself wishing that she would finally grow a backbone and tell everyone off.
That was my one major issue with this book, and with abuse books in general. Just because someone has become a victim of abuse does not mean that they have to stay a victim. Just once, I’d love to read a book where the victim fights back and does not succumb to the victim syndrome. It is in fact possible to remain strong after being a victim and that is also important. And personally, I think if Johanna hadn’t been such a victim, the book would have ended better. All in all though, Johanna is still a very believable character. Her reactions and fears are very common. So many women (and men) deny that there is a problem or will wait for their abusive partner to change, only to discover that that change will never come.
But despite my two cents on how I wish Johanna had been, I still recommend this book. Books about domestic violence are rare. Especially the domestic violence that occurs within a same sex relationship and I applaud Peters for writing a very real book about a very real topic.(less)