Sunday, June 8, 2014

Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult

Sometimes finding your own voice is a matter of listening to the heart.... 

Jodi Picoult's powerful novel portrays an emotionally charged marriage that changes course in one explosive moment....For years, Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned San Diego oceanographer Oliver Jones. But during an escalating argument, Jane turns on him with an alarming volatility. In anger and fear, Jane leaves with their teenage daughter, Rebecca, for a cross-country odyssey charted by letters from her brother Joley, guiding them to his Massachusetts apple farm, where surprising self-discoveries await. Now Oliver, an expert at tracking humpback whales across vast oceans, will search for his wife across a continent -- and find a new way to see the world, his family, and himself: through her eyes. (from GoodReads)

I've read so many books by Jodi Picoult and it was super interesting to read the first one she's ever written! While the story was enjoyable for the most part, I can definitely tell it's the author's first foray into writing.

Songs of the Humpback Whale was written in the early 90s and it's pretty obvious - the descriptions of the clothes and the lack of computers/cell phones/GPS. It was weird reading about a road trip in which the characters couldn't use their cell phones to map the route. I'm pretty sure Rebecca and Jane didn't even have a paper map with them and just relied solely on Joley's directions through the mail.

What makes this novel different was the way in which it was written. The reader gets five different POVs and one even goes backwards on the timeline (which I didn't realize until I read the author notes at the very end). This isn't unusual for Jodi Picoult novels except for the fact that sometimes the same scene was written from a few different perspectives. Interesting: yes. Necessary: probably not.

I also didn't really care for the romance in the novel, including the romance between Oliver and Jane, Jane and Sam or Rebecca and Hadley. I had a big problem with the latter because there was a ten year age difference between the two. Rebecca was 15 and Hadley was 25. Sometimes I felt like the only one who saw the ridiculousness and illegality of this relationship. It doesn't help that Rebecca turns 15 about a week before she meets Hadley so she is pretty young. That alone made me dislike the book.

But it's a Picoult novel so it's fairly well-written with good characterization. Overall I didn't mind reading it but her newer stuff is a lot better. So if this is the first novel you read by Picoult definitely check out her other stuff too.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

1992/Washington Square Press/346 pages

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