Erin's Reviews > Songs of the Humpback Whale

Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
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Jul 03, 07

bookshelves: adultfiction
Read in October, 2006

Jodi Picoult's first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale, was my latest read. In it, she establishes her writing style and tendency to use multiple perspectives. Jane Jones is a speech pathologist, living in California in the shadow of her husband Oliver's fame. Oliver does research on humpback whales, and is well-known for his discovery of whale songs and their repetition. When the book begins, Jane and Oliver get into another of their fights, and Jane strikes Oliver. Confronted by her past as an abused child, Jane and her teenage daughter Rebecca leave California in search of Jane's brother Joley. Joley directs them across the country to places he feels they need to see, including the site of the wreckage from a plane crash Rebecca was involved in the last time Jane felt the need to leave Oliver behind. Despite being three years old at the time, Rebecca recalls bits and pieces with vivid detail.

The story is told from the perspectives of Rebecca, Oliver, Jane, Joley, and Jane's lover Sam. Rebecca's voice recalls the events in reverse chronological order; whereas the remainder of the narrators tell the story in the order in which it happened. Picoult's use of multiple perspectives allows the reader to realize each character's quirks and personalities; ultimately, the stories converge at the climax, and the reader discovers that there are many different types of love that exist - the bond between a mother and daughter, the relationship of a husband and wife, and the connection between a person and the love of his life - one that can never be broken.

Overall, this was not my favorite of her books (Harvesting the Heart and My Sister's Keeper are the two I enjoyed best), but the character development was very good, and despite the fact the reader knows the end from the beginning, I found it hard to put down.
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