There’s just something about Jodi Picoult books that are so easy to pick up and read and become immersed in the story, even if the story isn’t very good. Luckily, however Sing You Home turned out to be quite the interesting novel, a fantastic read and for once — I even liked the ending!
Like with many, if not all, of Picoult’s books, this one is full of explosive drama, a courtroom battle and children in peril as well (sort of). The story in Sing You Home involves Zoe and Max Baxter, a middle aged couple who both have infertility issues. They have been trying to have a baby for nearly a decade now, and have been using in vitro fertilization for the past five years. When their last attempt results in a stillborn child, Zoe wants to keep trying but Max has had enough. He loves Zoe, but her obsession with having a child has drained him and he wants a divorce.
After the divorce, the two go on separate paths and realize different things about themselves. Max starts becoming a heavy drinker, but thanks to his religious brother and sister-in-law, he finds Jesus and lets him into his life, becoming a born-again Christian himself. Zoe befriends Vanessa Shaw, a school counsellor, and their friendship blossoms into a full-fledged relationship.
After Zoe and Vanessa marry, they decide they want a baby, but of course, since they are both women, they need to look into other methods. Zoe remembers her three cryo-frozen embryos leftover from when she and Max were doing in vitro fertilization and decides she wants to implant them in Vanessa, who is young, fertile and likely able to carry their baby to term. When Max is informed, however, he is horrified. As a devout Christian now, he abhors the idea of a child of his growing up in a house with two mothers. Instead, he would like to see his “pre-born children” in the care of his brother and sister-in-law, who have also been having infertility issues. Thus, the two go to court to battle over the embryos.
I actually really liked this story. I thought I wouldn’t because at first the story sounded almost ridiculous, when my sister told me what it was about. I guess the part that boggled my mind initially was, how could an agnostic man suddenly become an obsessed Christian practically overnight and how could a woman who has had never even thought about other women sexually suddenly become a lesbian overnight? It sounds kind of sudden, but it somehow works out. Jodi Picoult has a strange sort of magic when she writes characters; they feel so real to the reader that whatever happens, it seems like that is the perfect logical decision for that character to do.
If you’ve ever read any of Picoult’s other books, then you probably know what I’m talking about when I say this was an addictive read, as well as one that was able to evoke many emotions, especially regarding the subject matter. I found it sent a really strong message about the role of religion (specifically, Christianity) in the acceptance of gays in society; it’s no secret, to me, which side Picoult sides with, and she expresses herself with this story. There’s an attempt to give the Christians a voice in the matter of homosexuality so it doesn’t appear as if the story is totally one-sided, but they come off as obsessive religious people instead, to be honest. Kind of unfair, I guess, since I know not all Christians are crazy obsessive.
Particularly with the ending, I think that sent the strongest message of all. Now, if you’ve ever read one of my blog posts regarding a Jodi Picoult book before, you’d know that typically I end up despising the ending of her books. I don’t know what it is, but somehow she always seems to end her books with an ending that makes me want to bang my head against a wall twenty times. Not this time though. I actually thought the ending was very fitting with the direction the book was heading in, and I was a satisfied reader at the end.
The one thing that drove me crazy about this book was the timeline. Max and Zoe have the stillborn, get divorced, go their separate ways and find their new lives, Zoe gets remarried, they go to court and battle it out … all in a matter of about five or six months. That’s really weird to me, and just seems way too fast. I live in Canada so I don’t know about American laws, much less the individual laws of each state, but don’t you have to separate for at least a year before officially divorcing? Not only that, but Zoe meets Vanessa, moves in together and gets married within two months, and they decide to have children? Holy moly, talk about moving fast in a relationship, especially considering how Zoe just got out of a nine year marriage! Lastly, somehow I doubt a court case such as this would only take a few months to settle, especially considering how big of a deal it was made in the book (media coverage and crazy reporters and everything). The time was the one thing in this book that really bothered me, but I think Picoult had to rush things because frozen embryos don’t stay frozen forever, only about a year or so, and they are the whole point of the plot.
Okay, I lied; there’s one more thing that bothered me about the story and it was Max’s relationship with his sister-in-law, Liddy. It just seemed totally left-field and unnecessary, but as it was a really minor part of the story, I’m not going to let it bother me too much.
I didn’t bother with the soundtrack CD that came with the book, so I can’t comment on the accompanying music, but overall, the book was a great read and sends strong messages about not only religion and homosexuality, but about family and love as well.