Saturday, December 18, 2010

book review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Sing You Home: A NovelThe backstory: I am not a reader who eagerly awaits the latest Jodi Picoult book. In my pre-blogging days, I read and loved Keeping Faith. Last year, I read My Sister's Keeper and liked it. Then I read Handle With Care and didn't much care it. Still, I appreciate her advocacy for literacy and women authors. When I heard her latest book (coming out in March 2011) tackled issues of gay rights and infertility, I was doubly intrigued.

The basics: Sing You Home is the story of Zoe Baxter, a music therapist who has struggled to get pregnant for years; her husband Max, a recovered alcoholic who owns a lawncare business; Max's brother and sister-in-law, devout Christians who have also struggled with fertility issues; and Vanessa, a high school guidance counselor.

My thoughts: In typical Picoult style, this story is told from multiple points of view. It was a diversion for her, however, as most of the action lies with Vanessa, Zoe and Max. For me, the story wasn't compelling or convincing enough, and Picoult's writing isn't strong enough to carry 480 pages. In some ways, Picoult tried to do too much (homosexuality and infertility? I expected more characters), but she really did quite little. I admire her tackling a difficult subject when many presume her audience to be middle American women. Will this book change anyone's mind? I'm doubtful. Did Picoult try to see the controversial issues from multiple angles? Yes.

Picoult lovers will find much in this novel is familiar: medical and legal battles told from multiple points of view. Even though I've only read three of her novels, her formula struck me as annoying. Vanessa was by far my favorite character, but I didn't feel much empathy for anyone. Sure, there were compelling scenes that brought me to tears. Yes, I read the novel in two days, which is impressive for a 480 pages, but it was a quick read. There weren't sentences I lingered on to appreciate their structure or wonder.

The verdict: Picoult lovers will delight in another familiar tale of legal and medical battles, but this novel won't  entice those who have grown weary of her formula or those who are leery of venturing into Picoult-land.

Note: There were many mentions of music in this novel, and Picoult wrote songs for a cd, but the cd was not included in my ARC. Before several chapters, there were cues to play particular tracks.

Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
Length: 480 pages (but a quick read)
Publication date: March 1, 2011 pre-order it from Amazon or an independent bookstore
Source: Crazy Book Tours

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  1. Hi there. This is Emily from Reading While Female. I got your Secret Santa gift in the mail, and it is absolutely amazing! I just wanted to say thank you. Here is the post I wrote about it.

    Thanks so much, and Happy Holidays!

  2. I am not a fan of Picoult's writing at all. I kind of feel bad saying this, but she seems like a one trick pony to me. I also think it's a bit pretentious to expect people to play music before each chapter. This is not a book I will be reading, but I do appreciate your review and your honesty!

  3. I've read ALL of Picoult's books and liked some better than others. I was hoping for this arc, but no such luck. Sorry it was a bit disappointing for you.

  4. Your review is spot on. I recently finished reading the book and thought the same, it was just too much. 6 months after giving birth to a still born Zoe becomes a lesbian, gets married and is ready to have a baby (that she's made with her husband) with her wife? The alcholic, born again husband and his relationship with his brothers wife....I think the premise is great but the author did it no justice.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!