Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is an adventurous author--a few years ago, she incorporated a comic book into one of her novels. With Sing You Home, she (lyrics) and collaborator Ellen Wilber (music) have written a soundtrack for the book. The 10 songs, performed by Wilber (provided on CD with print copies of the book, available online to those who read an ebook), are each connected to a chapter in the novel. Since one of the central characters in Sing You Home, Zoe, is a music therapist, this ancillary could be a good idea--but the songs I listened to were mediocre and did nothing to enhance the reading experience. Top-notch recordings of the songs that Zoe used in therapy or listened to herself would perhaps have been more effective.

Aside from the addition of the soundtrack, Sing You Home follows Picoult's successful formula. It features multiple narrators--in this case music therapist Zoe, her husband Max, and friend Vanessa--each with a distinctive voice. The story rests on current "hot topics"--gay marriage, infertility, and evangelical Christianity. Many of the story's conflicts are played out in the familiar setting of the courtroom--and there's a Picoultian twist at the end.

To avoid being a "spoiler" (I'm feeling sensitive about what I write because a review of another Picoult title is by far the most viewed page on my blog), I won't say more about the plot, other than to say that some of the crucial developments in the story weren't believable to me. They certainly could happen, but I didn't feel Picoult provided the context we needed to believe that they would happen.

The parts of the books that I most enjoyed were the scenes in which Zoe was practicing her profession of music therapy. These scenes gave me insight not only into how music therapy can work but an appreciation for how a therapist changes e course during a therapy session to meet the client's needs. I didn't hate the rest of the book--and at least no children died tragically as a plot device (only pre-born children). Still, Picoult's innovations have not prevented her books from becoming predictable--even the supposed "twists" no longer really surprise.

Favorite passage: None

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