Book Review: Sing You Home

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Synopsis from Amazon.com:

In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen.

Sing You Home explores the delicate boundaries of identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. What happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family? Once again, Jodi Picoult gracefully brings the hidden tensions of life sharply into focus in this poignantly honest novel.

I’ve tried to think of a way I could do this review without spoilers and I can’t figure out a way to do that and still give this book the due it deserves. I just think there’s no physical way to do that and really discuss what makes this book so great. Therefore if you don’t want to be spoiled please stop reading here but do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s fantastic.

When I was in high school I read about 12 of Jodi Picoult’s books. I was addicted to her storytelling but after a while it just seemed like all her books ended the same way and I forced myself to stop. However, once I heard about this new book I had to pick it up. I was curious and I remembered how much I enjoyed Picoult’s books in the past. Therefore when I saw Sing You Home on the shelf of my new library I had to pick it up and read it.

A lot happens in this book but the main climax of the story is what makes it so important. Zoe is the center of the novel and all she’s ever wanted was to have kids and have a family. However, this doesn’t come easy for her. She and her husband, Max, struggle for years to have kids. They go to a fertility clinic, do in vitro, and even get pregnant but Zoe has a still born. It’s terrible and I can’t even imagine going through that.

From there it seems Zoe chances of having a child are completely done. I won’t run through the whole plot but in summary she and Max get a divorce, Zoe finds out she has endometrial cancer and she has to get a hysterectomy. Again, all of this isn’t even what makes the story really heart wrenching and thought provoking. It’s what happens after that really made my head turn.

The story is told in three points of view: Zoe, Max, and Zoe’s partner, Vanessa. In case for some strange reason this isn’t obvious Vanessa is, in fact, a woman. Zoe and Vanessa fall in love and Vanessa is ready and willing to carry the baby that Zoe believed she could never have and it’s perfect. Zoe still has three frozen embryos from her time with Max and she believes it won’t be too difficult to get Max to agree to give her the embryos; he doesn’t even want kids.

Unfortunately for Zoe and Vanessa it’s not that easy. Max has recently been saved and under the guidance of his pastor decides to sue Zoe for the embryos so the child/children could be raised in a “traditional family”.

I’m not going to spoil how this ends in case some of you who haven’t read the book have dared to read this review despite my warnings. What I will say is Picoult handled a heavy topic very well and I respect her for it. She could have chosen so many other perspectives in this story and it would have made a completely different book. If she had made the pastor a point of view then all the reader would get is this look at Christian hate, which isn’t very Christian at all.

With Max’s point of view you see his contemplation. His questions about what is right in the eyes of God and why is it if God is love then why is his ex-wife’s new love invalid? I also loved that Vanessa, who’s known she was gay her whole life, was raised in a Catholic household. I liked that Zoe wasn’t sure if she was gay and didn’t like the label even though she loved Vanessa.

Picoult deals with so many issues in this book: gay rights, the Church, the idea of the “traditional family”, belief systems in general, what defines a life, etc. This book had me on a emotional roller coaster the whole way through and I found it interesting getting all three different perspectives. Each one of the narrator’s were such complex characters. I understood Max’s struggles with his faith because I’m a Christian. I understood Zoe’s frustration because I think no woman, even a woman who doesn’t want kids, want’s to be told they don’t have a choice in the matter at all. I can’t say I understand Vanessa’s frustration of this idea that being gay may be tolerated now but it’s still not accepted because that’s not something I personally have to go through. What I will say is Vanessa’s frustration with never being able to be fully comfortable in her skin and always feeling like her sexual identity above all her other characteristics would always define her made my heart break.

If you haven’t read this book yet I seriously recommend it. This one is, without a doubt, a buy.

Borrow or Buy: BUY!!!

Favorite Line:

The only difference between a wish and a prayer is that you’re at the mercy of the universe for the first, and you’ve got some help with the second.

Stars:

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