Picoult and the music of life
The seemingly unstoppable Jodi Picoult delivers another heart-wrenching page-turner in Sing You Home, a stirring exploration of same-sex couples’ reproductive rights. Fast-paced and three-dimensional, the novel does justice to this pivotal civil rights issue, and Picoult again proves herself the queen of heartfelt social statement.
Forty-year-old music therapist Zoe Baxter and her husband, Max, have tried to have a child for nine years. When their fifth in-vitro fertilization attempt ends in a stillbirth, Max files for divorce, unwilling to try fathering a child again.
Backsliding into alcoholism, Max moves in with his brother, Reid, and sister-in-law, Liddy, who are also struggling with infertility. Confidence at rock bottom, Max comes under the influence of the charismatic, ultraconservative Pastor Clive at Reid’s evangelical church. Meanwhile, Zoe develops a close friendship with high school guidance counselor Vanessa Shaw and, to her own surprise, falls in love with her.
Zoe and Vanessa marry, and when they discuss the possibility of parenting, Zoe remembers that three frozen embryos remain from her last round of IVF with Max. When Zoe asks Max for consent to obtain them, a heated court battle erupts in which Max tries to prevent the “pre-born children” from being brought into Zoe and Vanessa’s “sinful” household. Coached by Pastor Clive and a media-drunk attorney, Max wants Reid and Liddy to be awarded the embryos instead.
Told from the perspectives of Zoe, Max and Vanessa, the story takes beautiful shape as Zoe’s loving but troubled relationship with Max falls apart and her tender one with Vanessa begins. Included with the book, a CD of songs performed by “Zoe” (with lyrics by Picoult) adds further dimension to the novel. The born-again Max sometimes verges on cartoonish, but his complicated relationship with his sister-in-law and his memories of marriage to Zoe pull his character back from the brink. At the same time, Picoult’s deft weaving of past and present gives Zoe and Vanessa engrossing depth from start to finish, and readers will be hard-pressed to put the book down before that finish comes. Thoroughly satisfying, Sing You Home truly sings.