Review: Sing You Home
Jodi Picoult is no stranger to controversy, having written about such hot button issues as a school shooting (in Nineteen Minutes), a priest agreeing to the death penalty (in Change of Heart) and forced organ donation (in My Sister’s Keeper). What puts her poles apart from headline-chasing novelists is pure and simple; her skill as a writer. Picoult is a storyteller who knows people; the good, the bad and the shameful, and creates characters who are so much more than vehicles to express and opinion. Her characters are full-rounded individuals, as in life there are no good guys and bad guys, just situations and reactions, some better than others.
Sing Your Home centres on a couple and their journey, as a pair and then individually, to some place where they can live with themselves and the choices they’ve had to make. Max and Zoe have been married for 11 years and have been trying to have a baby for nine. They’ve been through IVF and have had one miscarriage too many for Max. He just can’t heal this one last time, so he leaves Zoe. From here the two go their separate ways but are destined to be linked.
Max goes to live with his brother, the bright-eyed boy with the perfect life and a good Christian household. There, Max disolves into alcoholism, eventually finding the thing that keeps his brother on top of the world – God.
Meanwhile, a distraught Zoe pulls the pieces of her life together and gets back to work as a musical therapist. Singing and playing music to people in much worse situations than hers brings her to a place of acceptance. She also finds love, with Vanessa, a school counsellor.
And here’s where things get interesting. Zoe and Vanessa want to use the embryos which were fertilised by Max back when they were married. But the God that Max now follows sees Zoe as living a life of sin. How can he allow his child to live there?
Such a story, in other other hands, could have been a scandalous pot-boiler. Picoult, though, has you feeling for everyone. Max; the lost man who just wants to do the right thing. Zoe; the woman who is so close to having the child she wants. Vanessa; fearlessly guiding her wife through choppy legal waters. Picoult is a gentle writer, creating tender people with real life needs and foibles, plus some hilarious side characters who will have you chuckling.
If there is anything negative about the book, I’d say that Picoult rushed it a bit. My reading of the time-line was Max and Zoe were married, had a miscarriage, divorced, Zoe got remarried to Vanessa, Max found God and then there was a court case all in the space of three months. Jimminies, talk about U-Haul!
Having said that, I started Sing You Home hoping it would be good, but once I started I didn’t want it to stop.
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