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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Book Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I was fortunate enough to receive this book as a prize for participating in the LGBT Book Challenge 2011 over at the Book After Book blog and now I'm reviewing it for the same challenge. I'd love to see more people participating in this for the last few months of the year because apart from the opportunity to win books you get the chance to discover some gems you didn't know existed. Anyhow, plea over but I'd just like to reiterate my thanks to Book After Book for the challenge and the wonderful Hodder & Stoughton for supplying the book.

Sing You Home has a very contemporary plot. Zoe Baxter has suffered several miscarriages and disasters in her quest for a child. After her son is born prematurely and dies, the strain begins to tell on her marriage to Max. They separate and Zoe finds herself taking solace in her job as a music therapist. Then she meets Vanessa and falls in love quite quickly. They discuss children and the fact that Zoe still has frozen embryos. The stumbling block is that Zoe requires Max's permission and he's been taken into the heart of an evangelical church. I'll try not to give away any more of the plot though, to be fair, all that you would have learned from the dust jacket.

The novel is narrated by Zoe, Vanessa and Max in clearly defined sections. This was a concise way of showing the effects of proceedings on all three characters and it was, I feel, vital to include Max as a narrating character. Without this insight into his mind he could've become a basic villain using religion as a justification to dislike a lesbian couple. As it is, we know first-hand why Max came to seek solace in the Eternal Glory Church. We know about his alcoholism and his loaded relationship with his brother. All in all, this comes across as a very balanced portrayal with Picoult being remarkably even-handed during Max's chapters.

It was a difficult read for me, mainly because religious arguments against homosexuality make me furious. But, as I said before, it's a very contemporary novel detailing the conflicts in modern societies. Living in a more secular country than the USA, I found some of the evangelism alien and, in that way, it was educational. The most important thing, however, is whether a book is a good read and Sing You Home is. The characters are human - they lie and hold things back as any normal being does - and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I liked the numerous flashback scenes for each of the characters because they were consistently related to the current events and proved useful in understanding them. A word of caution though: it can be harsh on your emotions. The tiny scene near the beginning of the novel when Zoe holds her dead son haunted me for days.

I'd thoroughly recommend this book. I can't find a negative thing to say about it.


Brighton Blogger said...

I'm so glad you liked the book. Had you read anything by Jodi Picoult before this?

CharmedLassie said...

Nope. She was always an author I'd heard of but never paid much attention to!

Jamie said...

Jodi Picoult is an excellent author! I highly recommend Handle With Care and Nineteen Minutes