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Sing You Home

by Jodi Picoult

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
© Atria Books
Atria Books, 2011

Few books are so engaging, so enraging, so sympathetic as to arrest one's attention and demand to be read in one sitting. Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home is such a novel. It will bring tears to your eyes from both anger and sympathy as it presents both sides of three of America's most polarizing, hot-button issues: gay rights, reproductive science, and the Christian right. It is both well-researched and finely balanced. Picoult's considerable narrative skills bring these issues into sharp focus. It is novels of such powerful narrative force that can bring the reader of the edge of Truth. It is not just "fiction."

It is a poignant yet forceful reminder that intolerance is intolerance regardless of one's political or religious persuasion or position. Too many rabid proponents of one side of an issue forget that the other side feels just as strongly, and too often neither realizes that their rights stop when they begin to impinge on another's rights. The very day I read this book, the local news reported that a gay couple's home had been completely burned out, a clear hate crime.
The narrative arc follows the effort of Zoe Baxter's attempt to become a mother, first with Max, her husband of nine years, and then with her partner/wife Vanessa. The story is told from the viewpoints of each of these primary characters. Each voice is real and fully developed, true to his or her identity. After Zoe and Max divorce and Zoe and Vanessa marry in a neighboring state, Vanessa says that she wants to bear their child. They plan to use one of the three embryos that remain from Zoe and Max's efforts at in vitro fertilization.

When Zoe and Max divorced, however, they forgot to clarify the rights to the embryos. This becomes a major problem when Zoe asks him for permission to use the embryos. Max, who has come under the influence of the fundamentalist Eternal Glory Church, is led to sue Zoe with the help of an attorney who wants to save the "pre-born," his term for an embryo. Think of those attorneys who show up every time there is a high profile case in order to get themselves in front of the cameras. Picoult's characterization lampoons the breed yet gives equal space to that side of the argument.

Substitute gays for Jews and the story is as old as Shakespeare's Shylock who told us that Jews were no different than Christians. Picoult lends a powerful voice to those gay men and women who want to be in a loving, committed relationship, to be a family, to dream of all they can be. It is a story of sadness and joy; it is a story that all of us share.
Because Zoe is a music therapist, Picoult added a unique twist to this powerful story. She and Ellen Wilber wrote songs to accompany various stages of the novel. The book includes a CD on which Wilber performs the songs. Breaks throughout the novel point to the specific CD track that applies to that section. It is a moving soundtrack that reflects the voice of Zoe.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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