Last week, my late-night reading was very enjoyable. I could hardly put this book down to go to sleep:
I've always loved Jodi Picoult. She tackles sensitive, controversial subjects- abortion, euthanasia and child molestation, to name a few- and sets them in a narrative with very real characters representing strong opposing positions. Some have criticized her work as formulaic, and it's true she usually writes her way into a court case, with the verdict being the climax. But I don't see this as any sort of drawback, because as predictable as the formula may be, her characters are anything but. Moreover, her endings are nearly always a surprise, even for her most dedicated readers.
Sing You Home revolves around a music therapist named Zoe who has tried for years to get pregnant with her husband Max. When their final IVF attempt ends in stillbirth, the couple breaks apart. After their divorce, Zoe starts spending time with a guidance counselor named Vanessa, and after a few months of increased closeness, realizes that she wants a romantic relationship with her. Zoe and Vanessa get married in a neighboring state, and decide to try having a child with the three remaining frozen embryos from Zoe's last IVF. Zoe can no longer carry a child, so Vanessa will be the birth mother. But when Zoe approaches Max about the embryos, she finds that Max, previously a surfer and a heavy drinker, has sobered up and become a born-again Christian. Max's pastor, who he credits with saving his life, doesn't agree with a lesbian couple raising Max's children, and he presses Max to file a lawsuit preventing Zoe from using the embryos. Instead, he suggests that Max give the embryos to Max's brother and sister-in-law, a devout Christian couple who also have infertility problems.
What I liked best about this book was that even though I knew Jodi Picoult's agenda- her son is gay, and she's very clear about her advocacy for LGBT rights- I still thought the opposing characters, such as Max's pastor, brother and sister-in-law, were well-researched and written. They were not wooden, but passionate on the subject of the Bible and anti-homosexuality. Some might say that Picoult likes to bash the Christian right, and that may be true. But she does do her research among those she disagrees with: for this book, she interviewed several members of "Focus on the Family" to get her characters straight (no pun intended).
This book brought up a lot of thoughts for me about faith, religion and morality, and how those three things both overlap and stand alone.
For more information on Sing You Home, including the research and intent behind the book, visit Jodi Picoult's comprehensive website here: Jodi Picoult Sing You Home.