Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

by JeanBakula

Jodi Picoult is an excellent author, who has become the poster girl for tackling controversial issues in her home state of New Hampshire.

This book will be enjoyed not only because it is well written, but also for it's thought provoking story line. Ms. Picoult develops very interesting and real characters, and draws one into the story so much that it is very easy to empathize with their plights. The reader will come away from this read having looked at the issue from all sides.

Sing You Home

Music Brings Back Memories

 “Every life has a soundtrack,” is one of the beginning remarks in Sing You Home, another thought provoking book from Jodi Picoult. Truer words were never spoken. A song surely brings back memories, that of an old friend, a love affair, or a certain period in one’s life. This book also comes along with a companion CD, words written by Jodi Picoult, and sung by a friend, Ellen Wilber. There are suggested times to stop reading and listen to a track of the CD, so the reader can further understand what the main character, Zoe, or some of the others are feeling at that time. This is an interesting twist when added to this emotional and well told story.

Zoe and Max Baxter have been married for nine years. Max is a talented landscaper, and does snow plowing in the harsh winters in Rhode Island. Zoe is a Music Therapist. She realizes that many people think her chosen career is “New Age BS,” but she plays guitar and other instruments for patients in hospitals and hospices. Her beautiful voice distracts little children getting stitches or needles, comforts the elderly, and sometimes can help reach a troubled teen at school.

Novels By Jodi Picoult

Sing You Home

Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen. Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubb...

$16.00  $1.20

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Second Glance: A Novel

"Sometimes I wonder....Can a ghost find you, if she wants to?" An intricate tale of love, haunting memories, and renewal, Second Glance begins in current-day Vermont, where an o...

$16.00  $8.00

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The Tenth Circle: A Novel

Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She's also the light of her father, Daniel's life -- a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high schoo...

$16.00  $1.07

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Sing You Home

Meet The Characters

Zoe and Max want to have a baby, but have been plagued with conception problems, and although they tried in vitro fertilization three times, Zoe has been unable to carry a child to term. The clinical procedures have been heart-wrenching and embarrassing, causing both of them heartbreak, and taking the romance out of their married life. Max feels helpless as Zoe’s mood swings from the fertility drugs affect them both, and Zoe feels guilty every time they spend money on the procedures and do not get the results they want. In an unexpected turn of events, Max asks an already shattered Zoe for a divorce.

The reader learns in flashbacks that although Max completed three years of college, he majored in heavy drinking, serious only about his course in Geology. He began landscaping and sobered up when he met Zoe, but the costs of the in vitro fertilizations were overwhelming for them, and he had to borrow more money than she knew. When he gets drunk one night after they separate and awakens in the hospital, his Evangelical Christian older brother Reid, his wife Liddy, and Pastor Clive of Eternal Glory Church are there to greet him. Max goes to live with his brother and sister in law, and accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior, as he feels burdened and miserable, and needs so badly to feel loved. Zoe never liked Reid and Liddy, and said every visit to their home was like a “revival meeting,” but Max idolizes his successful older brother.

What Does It Take To Be A Parent?

Zoe throws herself into work, and slowly begins to heal. She is making progress with a possibly suicidal teenage girl in HS who thinks she is a lesbian, and is being teased and taunted by other students. Zoe also makes a new friend, Vanessa, and the friendship slowly blossoms into love. Zoe is so happy to find a person who really “gets” her, and when Vanessa confesses that she is a lesbian, it matters not a bit to Zoe. When they decide to marry, gay marriage is illegal in RI, so the couple has to wed in NH. Zoe finds that although her family is somewhat supportive, that some people in her life do not like or accept her decision to marry. Max is particularly upset by this development. Once Zoe and Vanessa feel secure in the marriage, Zoe remembers the frozen embryos that are still at the fertility clinic, and she and Vanessa agree they would like to have a child, which Vanessa can carry.

Jodi Picoult Discusses Sing You Home With Ellen

What Is A Family?

Family

Marriage, Gay Rights, and Children's Rights

When Is An Embryo A Child?

Max discusses his distress at Zoe’s remarriage with Pastor Clive, and mentions that there are frozen embryos still left at the fertility clinic from before he and Zoe split up. Pastor Clive of Eternal Glory Church is all ears when he understands that a member of his church can bring a huge amount of publicity to it. A court battle to decide whether a lesbian couple would be good parents, or if the embryos should go to a “good Christian home,” is right up his alley. He then begins to manipulate Max into giving the embryos to Reid and Liddy, who also have fertility issues.

 It never occurred to Max that anything could be done with the embryos at the clinic, and because these people are pressuring him at a time of weakness in his life, he objects to giving them to Zoe. He believes her marriage to a lesbian woman is a passing thing, and will not take it seriously. When Zoe is served with legal documents saying Max wants custody as plaintiff of “his pre-born children,” she is speechless that he could ever hurt her in this way, after all they have been through together.

What Defines A "Fit" Parent?

 A court case ensues, but Zoe and Vanessa’s lawyer feels their case is strong, because of Max’s past alcoholism. Max always looked up to his brother Reid, but as he begins to consider Zoe’s feelings more, he starts drinking again, and feels guilty that he is putting her through yet more pain. He also finds out some disturbing information about the brother he adores, and has a startling romantic development in his own life.

Certain powerful members of Eternal Glory Church go to such extremes to discredit Zoe and Vanessa as parents, it is startling and sickening to her family. They even go after Zoe’s career, as one time a teacher saw Zoe pat the back of a hysterical teen named Lucy to comfort her, and paints her as a lesbian who crossed the line with a student. These members of the Church almost gleefully find dirt on both Zoe and Vanessa, things they never could have found out without paying people off, things that were very painful for both of them. The Pastor even discredits his own step daughter Lucy, the suicidal student who Zoe saved from acting on those terrible thoughts. Right To Life activists are bused to court every day, courtesy of Eternal Glory Church, and the case is heavily followed in the news.

Writer Recommends Sing You Home

A Well Written Book

Max finally realizes he has made a terrible mistake; that he is being played by a dirty group of church leaders who are willing to destroy Zoe and Vanessa’s lives to win this case, and will stop at nothing. The case is no longer about the children he and Zoe dreamed of having someday, it’s all about religion, politics and law. Both Max and Zoe’s lives are spinning out of control.

The reader highly recommends this book, but one must understand that a Jodi Picoult book is always about controversial issues, and she lets her characters speak for both sides of them through their roles in the story lines. The book raises questions about gay rights and lifestyles, custody contracts for embryos left forgotten in clinics, and whether they should be considered “children” at such an early point. The author also describes the pain of young people struggling with sexual orientation. This novel also explores how far people will go to get what they want, no matter how badly they hurt others. Was the “Christian lifestyle” the better one when the church leaders lied to discredit two people whose only “crime” was to fall in love and want to have a family? Or is the traditional family only one choice of many in our times? It has been proven that children who grow up in homes with gay parents rarely are gay themselves, though this is often used as an argument against such an arrangement.

Sing You Home Discusses Timely Topics

The companion CD was a unique idea, but when one is engrossed in a good book, it’s unlikely that the person wants to take out a CD to find what track to play, and lose the mood of the written word. This reader is a Jodi Picoult fan, and after reading one of her books about two years ago, went back to read them all. She is a talented writer and chooses interesting and timely topics. No matter what your opinion of the issues presented in this tale, the author developed the characters well enough so that the reader will feel what all of them were going through by being  placed in this set of circumstances. I highly recommend Sing You Home, it is an interesting and well written read.

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

http://jeanbakula.hubpages.com/hub/The-Pact-by-Jodi-Picoult
The Pact is another powerfully written book by Jodi Picoult. This one will stay with you long after you read it, as we all think we know our children so well.

Updated: 05/17/2012, JeanBakula
 
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Jean on 02/04/2013

Hi Hollie,
I hear you. I got a Kindle Paperwhite 3G from Santa, and have way too many books waiting to be read! I love reading though. Picoult is a great author. The only thing I would mention is that she tackles controversial topics, or I should say controversial ones in the U.S. Many times she has members of the same family in lawsuits together, and often her characters have serious diseases. You may shed a tear or two, but it's worth it. Sing You Home is a nice one to begin. The Pact will break your heart. Second Glance is a sort of ghost/love story, that's a good one for a new convert to Picoult as well :).

HollieT on 02/04/2013

My mum and my sister love Picoult, and have recommended her books to me many, many times. I always have such a long reading list that I've never got around to reading her books. After reading this review, I think I need to rectify. :)

JeanBakula on 08/22/2012

Hello SeanMac,
Thanks for reading and commenting! I read my first Picoult book about 3 yrs. ago, then went back and read all of them. I think she uses the courtroom drama a lot (maybe she wanted to go into law)? But she gets the characters and emotions right, and the plots are interesting. Take care. Jean

SeanMac on 08/22/2012

A nice article. Jodi is very thought povoking in most of her books. Splendid review.

JeanBakula on 05/15/2012

Hello katiem2,
I am an avid reader, and just love what Picoult does with her characters. I think she approaches her characters's points of view with fairness, because the plotlines and topics she works with are always controversial. It's very eye-opening to look at a topic from a point of view different from your own, but to also see how that hurts that person. I think you will like it.

katiem2 on 05/15/2012

What a lovely review of sing you home, I'm sold put this in the must read category. Thanks for the great review. Oh the countless hours I've given to the topic of being a good parent, being a parent period. Very thought provoking indeed.

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