85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
It really irks me when Picoult's books are described as 'courtroom dramas' or said to be 'formulaic' because believe me, they are so much more than that. Her books are always a compelling blend of ethical dilemmas, gritty drama, moral issues and above all else, stories with a heart and an unexpected twist in the tale. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, something else is thrown at you that leaves you wondering just what will happen next. For me, this is the strongest Picoult book yet, which is no mean feat because I didn't think she'd ever be able to top the sheer brilliance that was 'Nineteen Minutes.'
I loved this novel. It's hard to say too much without giving away any of the plot, but I will say that it focuses on the true to life issues of the heartbreak of losing a baby, the struggles of IVF, same sex relationships and religion- a real mixed bag of engrossing topics! That's the main point of this novel: it feels real. Very real. In fact, it upset me at points because it felt so true to life and was written so compassionately on the certain situations and scenarios.
Picoult as ever, has really done her research and crafts a beautiful tale with incredibly drawn characters with believable flaws and personalities; it had me turning the pages wanting to know more about them and their lives and left me unable to put this down. As an atheist myself, I did find it a bit overdone on religious sentiment at time, but it did work with the stories theme and characters actions. I also liked how she incorporated certain current happenings to make the story even more believeable; i.e. at one point she had members of the Westborough Baptist Church in there, which added a completely realistic slant to events and happenings. Nobody quite writes like Jodi!
Recommended for long-time fans of Picoult and anyone wanting to give her books a try for the first time; this would be a great place for you to start- the accompanying CD soundtrack is also a winner (clever idea!) and very fitting with the story itself- just beautiful. I think this is her most personal story yet- and she tells it incredibly well.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2011
I am an avid Jodi Picoult fan, I have read nearly all of her novels, and I have to say i dont think this was her best effort. For me everything stops when I get her new book, (luckly for me she always releases them in time for my birthday!) I thought the CD was a nice touch although I will be honest I cant listen to music and read at the same time. Maybe if i read the book again i will give the CD a try at the same time.
I love Jodi's style of writing, whereby she dedicates each chapter to a character and writes from their perspective, this is extremely common in her novels. I felt the characters were well explored which consequently provided an insight into their backgrounds. However, although I liked the premise of the story, i just didnt believe it. Dont get me wrong I think it is a real contentious issue for same sex couples to fight for the same rights as heterosexual couples along with the issue of battling for custody of embryos from a retrospective relationship and I dont think i would come up with a fair conclusion for this, and I understand and empathise with anyone in this or a similar situation.
The religous aspect of this book grated on me and I found myself skim reading these parts aswell as feeling angry at the attitudes Picoult was conveying. I understand that this is in essence indicitive of her superb writing, but i just thought it was a little too heavy, although that is just my personal opinion, and maybe most of it was necessary for the book. I agree with a previous reviewer, in that if you are religious this may not be the book for you.
The characters themselves I liked. I particularly liked Vanessa and her vulnerability, and i feel this could have been explored a lot further. Although it was explained that she had a less than perfect childhood and her mother wasnt supportive of her sexuality. However, i feel this could have been expanded as we only had a short time in the book focused on her. Max frustrated me, it felt as though he didnt really know what he wanted and felt he continuously tried to gain approval from those around him.
As with some of the other reviewers, i felt the ending was not only rushed but unbelievable. I wished that the character of Lucy had been explored more, and we never knew why she "accused" Zoe of sexual harrassment and whther her father had a part play in that. We knew that she was troubled but it was never explicit as to why other than her religious conflict with her parents. Her sexuality was hinted at but not confirmed. Although it was unexpected I was frustrated that Max suddenly had a change of heart, and gave the embryos to Zoe. After all the reasons that Max gave for wanting his brother to have them, just doesnt seem believeable that he would just "change his mind". The last chapter, infuriated me as it was a happy ever after ending, Max ended up with Liddy, but no mention of how that happened. yes it was discovered that they had feelings for one another but as Picoult clearly described Liddy's character she had no intention of leaving Reid and her character being extremeley religious, i just dont think it was fitting. Also, in the final chapter, Samantha says she has a loving family with her 2 moms and her dad, given that Max stated repeatedly that he did not want to be father (which was why he wanted Reid and Liddy to have the embryos and he wanted be uncle max), just seems to saccahrine for me. There was no conclusion for Liddy either, other than her getting together with Max, regarding her wanting a child.
All in all, i did enjoy it i just dont think its up to Picoult's usually high standards and it certainly wasnt me favourite.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2011
This is a book of two parts. The main part - Zoe and Vanessas' relationship is written beautifully. Picoult writes an sympathetic and unsentimental (although romantic) picture of the pair. She also highlights the bigotry of some church movements towards gay people.
The other part is about Zoe's incompetence as a music therapist. She seems to wander around with her acoustic guitar like a travelling minstrel. She has no hesitation about diving, univited, into the rooms of dying children and older men to seemingly play them the wrong tunes. Her relationship with the suicidal teenager is just bizarre and her treatment methods unlikely to achieve anything but more likely to make the situation worse. This part of Picoult's writing slides into the mawkish. She is often overly tempted to slip into aphorisms that seem to be straight out of a self-help book.
I worry that Picoult tries too hard to hit the right 'buttons' to produce emotional effect. I know, though, that I am in a minority here and appreciate that many appreciate this book very much. For me, it was not one of Jodi's best.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2011
Because I expected so much from Jodi, I was disappointed. For me her other novels have been 5 star (except Mercy, which I just didn't like). She deals fearlessly with difficult issues and keeps you in suspense, however, I found "Sing you home" predictable and a confusion of issues such that none of them are properly dealt with. I feel like she is trying too hard, and as for the music, it left me cold. I listened to each track before and after each chapter, but found that it added nothing. The lyrics, indeed the music was 'quite nice' but I don't think I would go out of my way to listen to it otherwise. It was a distraction. I enjoyed the novel but it's not her best!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2011
Firstly, I should say that I love Jodi Picoult's writing and have read all of her books. I know she has some predictable plot patterns and follows a formula but even this isn't enough to put me off most of the time, since the stories and her indepth research tend to outshine that.
Maybe that is why I am so disappointed with this book. It is still very easy to read and enjoyable, don't get me wrong, but I was frustrated throughout and felt cheated on finishing it. It's difficult to explain thoroughly without giving too much a way, but lets just say that there are A LOT of cliches, plot holes and things that just seem a little far-fetched, on top of an obvious attempt to follow her successful formula. So many lifechanging decisions are made in a very short space of time, as if to enable Picoult to cram all her themes into one story. Moreover, some of these things just seem a 'convenient' way to get from A to B and are quickly forgotten - one of them being a character called Lucy, possibly the most interesting character in the book, who we hear nothing of at the end (and no, I don't think this is some intentional plot device).
The main characters are weak and flimsy, their behaviour a lot of the time seems off par, and I never really sympathised with any of them; in fact, at times they just bugged me. The lesbian issue seemed to be viewed through rose tinted spectacles, naive and a little too neat and tidy for me. The religious aspect felt double standard much of the time and each point of view too clear cut. Even the theme of motherhood and IVF that is central to the book seemed superficial and, although the ideas for a great story were there, it never really felt like it achieved all that it could have. It seemed more like an early draft that needed padding out a little to make it whole, almost as if she had rushed to get it on the shelf - even the eventual court scenes that bring us our conclusion only cover a chapter or two and we hear only tidbits of people's statements. Another 100 - 200 pages would not have hurt this book at all.
I could go on, but I don't want to sound too negative. After all, I did devour this book over a couple of days and it was hardly a chore; it won't stop me from buying future books by Picoult either. However, I think the author needs to realise that a good book is worth waiting for and that we, as readers, would much rather she take the extra time to get it right than to continue releasing half-hearted attempts so as to keep up with her yearly output.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2013
As usual, Jodi Picoult manages a contentious subject thoroughly while also telling an engrossing story, earning a 5 star from me. I suppose I should declare an interest - my own daughter was raised by 2 moms. She's a graduate, married for many years and has a child. Picoult's voicing of her characters was very resonant of my personal experience (including a degree of evangelical Christian bigotry to deal with). It's difficult for me to place this book within the body of her work because it rang a lot of personal bells.
Anybody wanting some insight into the emotional turmoil that being gay stirs up for the individual, their family, their ex heterosexual partner could do a lot worse than read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2012
I was quite excited to read this book because I have personal experiences with fertility issues. I actually cried in the first couple of chapters but after that I felt the quality dropped off, and I really disliked the ending.
I listened to the music in the first couple of chapters but didn't bother after that, although the couple I listened to I liked. But that's just me-I'd rather just read! I love music and books but the recent fad of soundtracks to books just doesn't work for me.
Usually I like Jodi Picoult's work because she comments on contraversial topics but remains mostly neutral. However, I felt there was a serious agenda to this book and her personal opinion was really pushed onto you. I'm no homophobe, but you can really see how her sons coming out (mentioned in the preface) influenced the book.
So 3 stars for such a good beginning, but not something I'll be rereading.
And what the f about Reid in the epilogue? From what I see he tried to be a good guy throughout the book, and he got shafted with no explanation??
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2012
I've found Jodi Picoult's writing a little up-and-down lately. Handle with Care is a relatively recent one and it's my favourite, and I enjoyed House Rules but I was less than impressed by Second Glance and wasn't that keen on Picture Perfect. Add to that the publishers recent tendency to re-release obviously old novels and you can see why I was a little anxious when it came to reading this one.
Luckily is seems that Picoult is on form with this one. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it as much as some of her other work but it was certainly up to her usual standard. I found it very clever how Picoult managed to make the reader almost want both sides of the party to `win'. I really liked Zoe and Vanessa but I liked Max too. I guess I could say I saw both sides of the story and although I ultimately came down on Zoe and Vanessa's side I didn't want Max to loose out and I really could see where he was coming from. Considering Picoult has a gay son (this is mentioned in the notes for the book) it seemed almost professional that she was able to present Max's side.
There was one little niggle I had though and that was to do with how Max's legal team handled his case. Now I am no legal expert, but even I could see that there was a better way to fight his corner.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2012
I read this book as a long time fan of Jodi Picoult novels. I love the way she writes and her books are so well researched and her subjects compelling. I had high hopes for Sing you Home but I was left slightly disappointed. The subject matter is typical Picoult, difficult, thought provoking and controversial. However I found this book unsatisfying and had guessed the outcome of the book quite early on. I love the major plot twists she throws into her novels normally and felt Sing You Home lacked that.
Overall though it wasn't a bad read as usual the characters of Max, Zoe and Vanessa were well written but none seemed evoke a sense of empathy in me usually associated with her other novels. Read it if your a huge fan but if you trying Jodi Picoult for the first time there are so many other of her books that are so much better.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Oh my! Another absolutely compelling read and most definitely one of her very best. There has been some online criticism that Jodi Picoult writes to a formula, I'm not sure that is completely true, but agree that her novels are always about social issues, family drama and relationships. Yes, once again, the story is narrated individually by the main characters, but as always, it really does work. What better way to see all sides of the same story? If this is formula - then it works for me as a fan, and certainly works for Ms Picoult as an author - why change something that certainly isn't broken.
It's also a shame that her books are labelled as 'courtroom dramas' when they are so much more than that. Her books deal with real, social, topical issues, with real families and people dealing with real life and not just the legalities and court procedures. Although there is no doubt that she does write the court-room episodes very well indeed.
So, back to Sing You Home; there are so many different issues dealt with in this novel, at first I wondered if it was too many, but as the story is told and the plot unfolds each issue knits together perfectly and only adds to the drama and to the plot.
Zoe, the music therapist, and desperate to be a Mother married to Max the reformed drinker and bit of a beach bum - both ordinary, everyday people whose lives have been changed by the fact that they can't naturally conceive. The impact of their loss on their marriage and where they turn for help influences the rest of the story. It's difficult to say too much without giving away the plotline, but homosexuality and religion play a large part in the story.
There were times I had to close the book and take a deep breath to control my anger. The outrage I felt towards some of the characters was enormous - that a fictional story and made-up characters can provoke such emotion says a lot for the quality of the writing.
Picoult fans will not be disappointed with this.