Monday, July 16, 2012

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds. Like her House Rules and several other previous Jodi Picoult novels, Sing You Home grapples with hot button issues. The novel also includes a CD of songs, each matched with a chapter in the book. Perfect for book clubs. (from GoodReads)

This is one of Jodi Picoult's newer novels, which is obvious by its subject matter. I think the issue of gay rights and marriage is a very important, so I was happy to see it tackled in Sing You Home.

I enjoyed Sing You Home, just as I do with all of Picoult's novels. What was cool was that it came with a CD to accompany different chapters. Since Zoe is a music therapist, it's supposed to be her singing. I'll admit that I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm gonna pop it in my CD player pretty soon now that I've finished the book.

I thought the commentary on music therapy was very interesting, especially because I've never really heard about it before. Zoe goes to hospitals, schools and nursing homes to play for the ill and elderly. She tries to get them to engage with the music or just be distracted from the pain. If I was more musically inclined, this type of job would be right up my alley. I love music (and I played clarinet for many years) so I definitely believe in the healing properties of melody and lyrics.

Sing You Home will probably be a controversial book for some people, since it involves the hot-button issue of gay rights. No matter what your political affiliation, no one can argue that denying rights to a group of people isn't wrong - and that's what is at the heart of Sing You Home.

This novel switches points-of-view between Zoe, her partner Vanessa, and her ex-husband Max. Zoe's and Vanessa's narration were way too similar and I kept getting confused about who I was reading (I guess that shows why they should be together, though, they're so similar!). I was glad to read about Max, too, even though he's painted as the "bad guy." It shows how he became religious and why he's part of an evangelical church. Since he lives with his brother Reid and sister-in-law Liddy, we also get some insight about other members of the congregation. These characters are likable, even if their actions are a tad misguided.

The only thing I was confused about was Zoe and the way she chose to identify herself as a lesbian. I wasn't sure why Jodi Picoult didn't write her as a bisexual, since she seemed to be attracted to both men and women. I think labels are unnecessary and anyone can love whoever they want, but I was curious why she picked one and not the other. I wish I could ask the author!

Overall, I enjoyed Sing You Home and thought its portrayal of equality and gay rights was spot-on. The ending was not what I expected but I still liked the way everything turned out. Can't wait to see what Picoult puts out next!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2011/Atria/466 pages.

1 comment:

Stephanie Ingrid Sarah Kristan said...

Great review, and bravo to Picoult for tackling such issues. We haven't read SING YOU HOME, but we've read a few others by her, and she usually does a good job of presenting multiple sides to tough topics.