Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

While reading the first chapter of Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, a tale of the maudlin ups and downs of trying to make a baby, I’m thinking, okay, where is this story going. Let’s hope it picks up. And pick up, it does.

Nine years for the couple, Zoe and Max. Nine years of trying to get pregnant, a few in-vitros take, but end in miscarriages and a still birth. And then, the second chapter tells the story of those nine years again, from Max’s point of view. New font and all.

Switching voice works well for Picoult in this novel. It’s good to hear the husband’s point of view because his role seems easy, jerking off into a cup and being supportive of his wife, and unless you have a brother or close male friend who has been through it, you might not understand the hardship on the guy. It’s a bit too much for Max, and under the stress, he divorces Zoe.

It doesn’t take long for Zoe to fall in love again. She marries and wants another shot at motherhood and needs the three embryos that remain stored at the fertility clinic. So far, pretty mundane stuff.

The storyline gets a contemporary update and really picks up. Picoult tackles some tough issues around the social and technological engineering of babies. And who gets to be a parent.

Zoe’s new spouse is a lesbian, and Vanessa would carry the fetus. But Max wants his brother and sister-in-law, who can’t seem to have a baby, to inherit the embryos. Who will get the embryos?

The story takes a few twists the way legal cases in fiction and life tend to do. And we continue to hear the events through three character’s voices, in different fonts, an unnecessary device that did more to distract me than guide me or remind me who was narrating. At times, the repetitiveness led me to skim lines and paragraphs. And, I don’t get the CD thing.

The book includes a CD of songs written by Picoult and sung by a friend. Sure, the character Zoe is a music therapist and we learn a lot about her work in the story. However, instead of writing songs, Picoult could have developed Max’s storyline so he comes across as more than a cliché, a divorced drunk guy living in his brother’s basement who almost gets killed in a car accident but instead gets hit by God.

I didn’t want to spoil the book by hearing the CD. I thought the story, the writing, should make it on its own. And it certainly does. And Ellen DeGeneres thinks so too. She’s set to make Sing You Home into a movie.

Resources

Review by Sarah Millar at Open Salon
Review by Diane Baker Mason at the Globe & Mail
Ellen to make a movie of Sing You Home

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