Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult focuses on a lesbian couple who is fighting for the right to start a family. The book includes a unique multi-media feature -- a CD of music that readers are supposed to imagine was written by the main character, who is a music therapist and musician. Sing You Home is timely and thought provoking, though still burdened with the usual flaws of Picoult's novels.I have pretty strong opinions about Jodi Picoult novels. I can see why they appeal to some people: they are generally fast paced page turners that deal with hot button issues. Book clubs might like how easy it is to discuss the topics Picoult presents since they tend to be subjects that draw out strong opinions. I do not, however, like Jodi Picoult novels. I think they are emotionally manipulative, unrealistically sad and melodramatic, and unbalanced in their portrayal of sensitive issues. I also think they are formulaic. My usual advice is that if you want to read a Jodi Picoult novel, browse this list of all her published books and pick the topic that most interests you. Might as well insert your area of interest into Picoult's formula, which goes something like this: family drama + social issue + court scene + crazy twist at the end = crying and throwing book.
That being said, when I review a Picoult novel, I use a relative scale. I compare it to everything else I've read from her as opposed to everything else I have read.
Sing You Home is slower than some of Picoult's novels, but that might be a good thing. The characters seemed more likable and realistic. The twists and courtroom drama were not key, and I liked that change. It did, however, take me a while to finish the book because it did not grip me. I put it down for a week more than once, and didn't miss reading it at all. On the other hand, I have thought about the book and characters several times since finishing the novel. They stuck with me and became almost real players in the gay rights drama unfolding in the United States.
I think one of the main problems with Sing You Home is that it tries to cover too much over too short of a time. The main character (a woman) struggles with infertility, gets a divorce, falls in love with another woman, gets remarried then decides she wants her partner to carry the eggs she and her former spouse had fertilized and frozen for In Vitro Fertilization. That's a lot of action before the courtroom drama even begins! And it all happens in about 6 months time! I had to ignore the time frame to make it at all believable, and Picoult couldn't address any of the changes in depth without slowing down the novel even further. (I didn't even mention the ex-husband's side story, which includes an alcoholic relapse, his life falling apart, a religious conversion and his life coming back together -- all in the same short time frame). (Don't worry, this paragraph actually is not a spoiler since all of this is prelude to the main action of the novel).
One of the best parts of the novel is the main character's profession as a music therapist. The interactions with her patients and the details about music therapy were poignant.
Overall, I liked Sing You Home more than Picoult's other releases over the past few years.