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Songs of the Humpback Whale

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  30,114 ratings  ·  2,156 reviews
Sometimes finding your own voice
is a matter of listening to the heart....

Jodi Picoult's powerful novel portrays an emotionally charged marriage that changes course in one explosive moment....For years, Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned San Diego oceanographer Oliver Jones. But during an escalating argument, Jane turns on him with an alarming v
Kindle Edition
Published (first published March 25th 1992)
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Average rating 3.20  · 
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 ·  30,114 ratings  ·  2,156 reviews

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Nov 09, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ditched-it
This book is awful. Jodi Picoult has written too many books too quickly - she's lacking a good story and apparently doesn't research her material. The book is written from five different perspectives - which would be fine but she doesn't go in chronological order and she doesn't consistenly date the entries. You have to guess the time frame.

Next, when the mom and daughter arrive in Salt Lake she gives an AWFUL description of the people and the main attraction - the Great Salt Lake. She says the
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a hard Picoult book to get into. I kept putting it down to read other books instead. The story (when it finally comes together) is a good but that skipping around and then hearing different POVs was just not an attention getter. I only have two more of her books to read and will have read all of her work but I can already say that I like her later work much better than her earlier work. This one was one of my least favorites. The characters had some likeability but for the most part no ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As an avid Jodi Picoult reader, I was deeply disappointed by this book. Usually I love her books and can't put them down. I found the characters to difficult to relate to and therefore difficult to care about. Some of them were just plain creepy and disturbing; Joely who is apparently madly in love with his own sister, and Hadley a 25 year old man who thinks it is okay to have a sexual relationship with a naive, emotionally immature fifteen year old girl. That's called statutory rape.

The narrat
kwesi 章英狮
Nov 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2011, jodi-picoult
Some said that Jodi Picoult's early works were not as good as her present novels. Which I do agree that in fact I'm still in a process of discovering her own world of writing. What I mean is, I'm not quitting, I have the feeling that her present works were better and she's still in a process of discovering her own inner ideas to write a book. I don't believe that her books were written badly and in fact, I find it okay but the problem with this book is the strangling minds of the characters. I c ...more
Nov 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: established Jodi Picoult fans
Shelves: 2009-read
I need to start this review by saying that Jodi Picoult is one of my absolute favorite authors. Two summers ago I borrowed nearly every book she'd ever written from the library, and devoured them all. The way she writes - the subjects she writes about - they're real, and timely, and relevant. Her kind of fiction is the kind I would want to write... if I were a fiction author.

To my knowledge, Songs of the Humpback Whale is the first novel that she published. Having read most of her later novels,
Apr 21, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
February 2007 BotM. I tried to remain optimistic while reading this book. It wasn't one I voted for, but I read it anyway. It's been read, and I'm glad it's over and done with. It wasn't the type of book that I like, and while I usually don't give a book a bad opinion, this one, as much as I hate to say this, stank. OMG! All of it was in the first person; there were no dividing chapters, just the characters themselves. Everything was written in the first person. While you don't pay that much of ...more
May 18, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore Picoult fans
I've been reading some of Jodi Picoult's books and generally find them fairly entertaining, on the trashy side with some good lines thrown in every now and then. this one, reprinted due to her recent popularity, however, is not a winner. it took me forever to read and the style was annoying and inconsistent. supposedly told backwards from five different perspectives, it's actually in a jumbled chronology with confusing skips back and forth between characters, resulting in the reader not feeling ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: two-star
As a debut novel, this book shows definite promise. Having said that, I have read several of Picoult's later works and found this to be the weakest thus far. I enjoyed the premise of the mysterious world of humpback whales and wondered how Picoult would weave them into the storyline, but in fact the whales don't feature nearly as much as I had hoped.

In typical Picoult style, the story is told from multiple perspectives. I initially warmed to Jane and her daughter Rebecca, but soon found them bot
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by the 1- and 2-star reviews for this book. I loved it and could not put it down. There was strong character development, and the family struggles in their different relationships as well as the outcomes and reasons for them were realistic. I also liked the unique way the story unfolded, one story going backwards in time and the rest forward, all being told from the viewpoints of the five main characters.

Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adultfiction
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 a ...more
Cameo S
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Lamb
I am normally a big JP fan, but this book just didn't do it for me. I know it was her first, and in my opinion, she vastly improved over time. First, I thought it was VERY difficult to be sympathetic to Jane's character. I know her backstory was supposed to make this happen, but in the end I just thought she was a whiny immature woman who didn't have the decency to just make up her mind already.

Second, I thought the Hadley-Rebecca relationship was super odd. I see the type of relationship Picoul
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
SICK and tired of reading the same convos and scenarios again and again from each person's perspective. A LOT of it was crazy repetitive and not incredibly enlightening as to each individuals point of view. Maybe fun for Picoult to write, I don't know. Made me weary to keep reading.
Also, the characters trip to Salt Lake... Do people swim in the Great Salt Lake? And she inserts these supposed polygamists into the story... Trying to make them nice, I guess. A man and his three wives, and not a kid
Ben Starling
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Songs of the Humpback Whale is a good read and structurally quite masterful. Multiple POV and one storyline running backwards. This was Picoult's first published work - and she pulled all this off at the age of 26! Outstanding. Stand back non-believers. Recommended.
Mary Ann
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite novelists. The first I read was Salem Falls (2001) which was her eighth novel. Eventually, I read (and re-read) them all except this one, her debut offering, from 1992. I was quite surprised to see so many negative reviews and 1 and 2 star ratings, so I decided I'd better finally read it, and I'm very glad I did.
I really, really liked it and give it 4 stars only because it is not as polished and complex as much of her later work. While it is plot and theme-driv
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is Jodi Picoult's first novel, it's not the first one I read, but nonetheless this novel can make you fall IN LOVE with her.
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, with every book I read she doesn't cease to amaze me.
You always learn something new, (like in this one where you learn about humpback whales, something I never thought I'd read about.)
So, let me be more clear on what this book is actually about, because it isnt only about humpacks, :D
The main characters are Jane, O
Songs of the Humpback Whale is Picoult’s first novel, a fact that is painfully evident as you turn the pages. I originally abandoned Songs of the Humpback Whale, placing it back on the bookcase around page 73, but I picked again after listing it as one of my To Be Read Challenge bookstack and coming to grips with the fact that reading the complete works of Jodi Picoult did require I read her first book too.

Songs of the Humpback Whale, like all of Picoult’s novels, is told from the alternating vi
Aug 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didnt-finish
I'm a big Jodi Picoult fan, so I'm trying to read all of her books. This one came, and i looked at the premise and thought - eh? I started reading and thought eh! Skimming forward and reading the reviews i thought EH! And decided there was no need to finish it. Usually her books center around a moral problem that make you think, mostly with a kind of twist. This book is just about a woman who is leaving her husband, who works too much, taking her daughter with her. They are driving from CA to Ne ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I just had a few issues with it. It bothered me that often times I felt like the dates/ages of people didn't match up. Rebecca (the daughter) was 15 and Jane (the mother) was 35 in the book. This means that Jane had Rebecca when she was 20. Jane's age when she got married was never actually mention, but she started dating her husband at 15. Later on in the book it says that Jane had Rebecca after she was married for a while, got her masters, etc ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Now normally I love a Jodi Picoult book. She is one of my favorite authors. But this book just rubbed me the wrong way. Well, in particular Jane did. I had no problem with her trip, and her and her daughter running away. But the way Jane acts, and the way her husband Oliver acts about the whole abuse situation. I feel like these characters contradicted themselves at every turn. And the ending was completely a drop off, and a disappointment. I was mentally slapping every character at one point or ...more
Lynn G.
Had this been the first Picoult book that I had ever read I feel certain that it would have been my last. Fortunately, for me, I had read others of her titles and, generally, thought they were well done, in particular House Rules House Rules by Jodi Picoult .

The only redeeming quality of Songs of the Humpback Whale was the information about the humpback whale.
The characters, by and large, were flat and uninteresting. The repetitive aspects of the plot line didn't work and were just annoying. Picoult's editor should h
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a story. Very interesting concept in format, a story being told in opposite directions in parallel, one present to past, the other past to present, by different characters. I’d think it would be hard to keep that all straight. I did have some moments of confusion. Overall it’s well done. Especially for a debut novel. The two-way timeline made certain events even more poignant, since you kind of know what’s coming, after reading another character’s telling from the other timeline. But diffe ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently became a Jodi Picoult fan, and have since snatched up every book out there with her name on it. Oddly enough, I wasn't able to get my hands on a copy of her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale, until after I had read all fifteen of her other novels. I decided that it would be worth it just to see what kind of beginnings Picoult had and to see what began her career.

Songs of the Humpback Whale follows the journey (both literally and figuratively) of a woman and her daughter who are
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Told from five perspectives, and in different orders, Songs of the Humpback Whale shows a remarkable depth of insight into the way in which events are different for every participant.
The at-times-confusing decision to write events backwards for a character and forwards for others helps avoid the tedium that could arise from retelling the same events multiple times, but unfortunately, at times, leads to difficulty in remembering where in the story one is with regard to everyone else's timeline.
It's no secret that I'm a sucker for Jodi Picoult. No matter how much her books may frustrate me I'm always ready to pick up her latest release and let myself get sucked in all over again. I read my first book by her in the late 90's, The Pact and then I read Plain Truth and pretty much everything that followed but I had never read this one (her first) or a few of her earlier works. Some of them just didn't seem overly interesting to me but we're doing a challenge with my book club and one task ...more
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a very difficult read and was a disappointing novel from Jodi Picoult. I had read other reviews and tended not to pay too much attention to them. I find I often disagree with the majority. I read, in more than one, that this was her first novel. And it shows. I always enjoy the perspective of different characters with separate chapters in various typefaces. But this time around, the change in dates were not obvious ones. It jumped around a lot from present to past and I always took a fe ...more
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Don't bother reading this one. Not worth it.
Alvina Dossani
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Songs of the Humpback Whale, is Jodi’s first novel, I say Jodi like she is my best friend, which she is.
I have loved her work ever since my first book, “handle with care” the characters she builds in her novels come to live in my head. They feel so real so strong and this is the mark of a brilliant writer.
When if first read “Songs of the humpback whale” I didn’t like it, reason; I was too young to grasp the concept or appreciate the writing. Though I love a
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Did you easily get confused with the stories? 13 79 May 24, 2016 10:38AM  
Struggling so far 3 13 Oct 01, 2015 10:10AM  
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Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-six novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Small Great Things, A Spark of Light, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her new novel, THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS, is

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