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Songs of the Humpback Whale [Paperback]

Jodi Picoult
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

20 Aug 2009
Jane had always lived in somebody's shadow. Escaping a childhood of abuse by marrying oceanographer Oliver Jones, she finds herself taking second place to his increasingly successful career. However, when her daughter Rebecca is similarly treated, Jane's dramatic stand takes them all by surprise. Jane and Rebecca set out to drive across America to the sanctuary of the New England apple orchard where Jane's brother Joley works. Oliver, used to tracking male humpback whales across vast oceans, now has the task of tracking his wife across a continent. To do so he must learn to see the world - and even himself - through her eyes...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; Paperback Edition, First Printing edition (20 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340897309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340897300
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.8 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jodi Picoult received an A.B. in creative writing from Princeton University and a master's degree in education from Harvard. She is the author of seventeen novels including MY SISTER'S KEEPER(now a major film starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin), NINETEEN MINUTES, CHANGE OF HEART and HANDLE WITH CARE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Learn more at

Product Description


Picoult displays near perfect pitch . . . ingeniously structured and reminiscent of early Anne Tyler (Mary Morris)

Charming and poignant, Picoult's novel is even better after a second reading (Library Journal)

This powerful and affecting novel demonstrates that there are as many truths to a story as there are people to tell it (Publishers Weekly)

Book Description

If you were harmed as a child and you were afraid your daughter was being harmed - what would you do? Jodi Picoult's first novel is a compelling drama of family, loss and misunderstanding, and reconciliation.

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First Sentence
Hawaiian and West Indian humpbacks seem less unhappy to me that the whales off the coast of New England. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
For years, Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned San Diego oceanographer Oliver Jones. But during an escalating argument, Janes turns to him with an alarming volatility. In anger and fear, Jane leaves with her teenage daughter, Rebecca, for a cross-country odyssey. Charted by letters from her borther Joley, they are guided to his Massachusetts apple farm, where surprising self-discoveries await. Now Oliver, an expert at tracking humpback whales across vast oceans, will search for his wife across a continent, and find a new way to see the world, his family, and himself: through her eyes. The story is told in five different voices which at the start i found a bit difficult to understand as this is a very unusual way of writing, especially with Rebecca telling the story backwards: ) but once you get into the novel it becomes more clear. A very good read and i will read more of Picoults books.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Least fav book 3 Nov 2009
As an avid Jodi Picoult reader, I looked forward to reading this book. I usually love her books and can't put them down. I was deeply disappointed by this one. I found the characters difficult to relate to and therefore difficult to care about. I found the hospital scene disturbing without context or relevancy. I honestly wish I hadn't read this book as a result. The ending was in keeping with the rest of the book - flat, in comparison with her other books. I would not recomend this book to anyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pass this Picoult 14 Nov 2009
I've read quite a few of Picoult's books. Didn't like this one. There must have been a reason that this didn't get published before. I can cope with reading stories out of sync and moving between characters but this was not well written. In fact I am not sure what the underlining story about her childhood really was.

I don't understand why they chose to publish it without editing it a little. Sadly it seems someone wanted to 'get on the bandwagon' and earn some money on the back of her more successful novels. Definitely passing this onto the book swap shop at work. Not a keeper.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Picoult's debut novel 20 Feb 2010
I have enjoyed many of Picoult's books so far, such as The Pact, Plain Truth and Salem Falls. Although I have been left feeling disappointed with a couple of her stories, (Mercy and The Tenth Circle) I still had high hopes for 'Songs of the Humpback Whale'.

This novel follows Jane, a mother with a troubled past and her 15 year old daughter Rebecca from the moment she decides to leave her husband Oliver, an oceanographer who tracks the songs of whales. Joley(Jane's brother) delivers letters across America to Jane and Rebecca as they make their way from San Diego to New Hampshire to meet him. Meanwhile Oliver has used his whale tracking ability to help him track his family across the continent.

The novel is told in 5 voices; Jane, Rebecca, Oliver, Joley and Sam (Joley's boss). Although telling stories through multiple viewpoints is a strenth of Picoult, I found the first 100 pages a struggle to get into. However once Jane and Rebecca arrive at the orchard in New Hampshire and Sam comes into it more I found the viewpoints had more cross-over and I am glad I didn't abandon it.

If you are looking for the gripping court room drama style books like her later work then give this one a miss but if you don't mind getting through the first few chapters it is worth it to encounter Jodi's sensitive narrative of family and love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended 22 Aug 2010
By F
I attempted to read this book after seeing it on special offer in my local supermarket, and having enjoyed the authors other book, 'My Sisters Keeper' which I enjoyed.

However, this book is so very different and is in my opinion, of a very low standard. The basic story line is boring and long winded. There are pages and pages and pages of absolutely nonsense which has no interest to the plot whatsoever. The characters are one dimensional and dull. It jumps to random characters who you have no idea who they are or where they fit in.

I completly lost interest, and tried to push on but by around half way I had to admit defeat. I had no idea what what going on, who was who and I felt no connection to the story.

I feel that this book has not been edited or proof read at all, and it would do with a big shake up.

Sorry, but a definate no no from me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and hard to follow 8 Oct 2009
I usually really enjoy this author's work so bought it quickly expecting it to be of a similar vein and quality. The foreword says that it is her first published work and it seems that she had not really found her style at that point.
I very very rarely leave a novel unfinished but this is an exception. The story is difficult to follow and the characters are of no interest to me. I feel that it has been published in the UK on the strength of her subsequent books and would not have sold well at all otherwise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and mercenary marketing ploy 29 Sep 2009
I have recently discovered Jodi Picoult's novels and have found her writing fast-moving, gripping and thought provoking. That is until I picked up Songs of the Humpback Whale, which I found to be plodding, confusing, and just plain boring. (It was a real struggle to get to the end, and when I got there I found I didn't really care about any of the characters). This book about a mother who runs away with her daughter across the USA after being driven to hit her husband, is Jodi Picoult's first novel and it shows. The narrative written from five different characters' points of view doesn't work nearly as well as the same technique in My Sister's Keeper, and the jumping about between timelines is just plain confusing. The book wasn't published in this country until last year - an obvious attempt by the publisher to cash in on the author's current popularity. If this is the first book you have read by Jodi Picoult, don't be put off - I would highly recommend her other novels such as Perfect Match, My Sister's Keeper and Nineteen Minutes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
not read it yet
Published 1 month ago by SusieQ
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A gift for the wife that left her happy and kept her off my case for a bit.
Published 3 months ago by Chris Longden
4.0 out of 5 stars Songs of the humpback whale
Again, fantastic service. This book arrived in a couple of days.
Enjoyed the story line but not as much as some of the other Jodi books I have read.
Published 5 months ago by Jackie
1.0 out of 5 stars Codswallop
It seems the publisher's are cashing in on her popularity by publishing one of her very early novels, before she had worked out how to write and structure a decent story. Avoid.
Published 6 months ago by Mark Bracewell
2.0 out of 5 stars Picoult is normally a safe bet...
I choose to read Jodi Picoult as a fairly light-hearted but interesting 'in bed' read, and I was excited to buy this book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kelsey Parish
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
This is JPs first book and I was really expecting greater things. There is too much stuff about the Whales which does not appear to link to the story; maybe I am wrong, however I... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Diana N.
4.0 out of 5 stars First book. Great promise
Very well written with great promise to come. First book released. Very enjoyable great descriptions you can picture places clearly
Published 7 months ago by Mike Dalzell
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs of the Humpback Whale
Tracked the book down on Amazon. Quick delivery. Purchased book for a friend then asked her to give me it back so I could read it again. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bargain priced Top.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I'm surprised the average rating for this book isn't much higher, great read I thought a story that spans America
Published 9 months ago by Miss C L Lace
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
The set up is a bit hard to follow but a great story. Would have enjoyed it more if the time line had been continuous
Published 12 months ago by Alix Jones
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