Jodi Picoult is a very popular author who has been writing books for a long time. A couple of her books have been even been made into Lifetime Television movies. A third book to movie conversion is in the works. Jodi is decidedly heterosexual and lives a fairly normal life (if the life of a celebrated author can ever be “normal”) in New Hampshire with her husband, children and assorted animals. What then possessed this straight woman to write a work of fiction, Sing You Home: A Novel, that expounds upon gay rights and the meaning of family?
It seems that Picoult has never shied away from the issues of our times and gay rights are no exception. As a novelist, her stories, though not romances, typically center around love, relationships and the modern day issues that affect her characters. Her books, though novels, are well researched and though provoking. Sing You Home is yet another in a line of such books, though this one is probably her most polarizing novel yet.
In book publishing, especially in fiction, being polarizing can be a very good thing. This is evidenced by the fact that, as of this writing, Picoult’s latest book is ranked #420 over all on the Amazon.com Best Sellers list. People are buying this book in droves, they’re reading it, and they’re talking about it. This fairly new release has well over 200 Amazon reviews and many, many more on other sites all over the web. On Amazon, the book fluctuates between 3.5 and 4 stars which is what drove me to read and review it.
The Amazon review rankings do not have a lot of middle ground. They gay community loves the book as do a lot of her long term readers. Others, especially many long term readers, despise it as flatter than some of her other books with characters that they feel are too one dimensional. Regardless of which camp a reader falls into, everyone is talking about this book!
The review/synopsis of the book from Booklist:
Popular author Picoult tackles the controversial topic of gay rights in her latest powerful tale. When music therapist Zoe Baxter’s latest pregnancy ends in a stillbirth, her husband Max decides he can’t handle any more heartbreak and leaves her. As she picks up the pieces of her life, Zoe is surprised to find herself falling for a school counselor who happens to be a woman. While Zoe is finding happiness with Vanessa, Max falls off the wagon and is helped by a pastor from his brother’s evangelical church. Vanessa and Zoe wed in Massachusetts, and Vanessa offers to carry one of the fertilized embryos Zoe and Max stored. Excited by the prospect of being a mother, Zoe goes to Max to get him to release the embryos to her and is shocked when he instead sues her for custody of them, backed by his church. Told from the perspectives of all three major characters, Picoult’s gripping novel explores all sides of the hot-button issue and offers a CD of folk songs that reflect Zoe’s feelings throughout the novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The always topical Picoult plans a multimedia tour to more than two dozen cities with Ellen Wilber, who will perform the songs she and Picoult wrote together. –Kristine Huntley
I loved the book. Admittedly, it was my first Jodi Picoult book and, given the typical subject matter of this blog, I do have a gay bias. Be that as it may, I liked it so well I intend to seek out more of her work since roughly a third of the readers of this book seem to think that this one doesn’t even touch her best works.