Nearly Perfect Pitch – “Sing You Home” by Jodi Picoult
Zoe and Max have been married for nine years, and they’ve been struggling to have a baby the whole time. After numerous treatments, attempts, and miscarriages, they finally seem to have it worked out – Until Zoe delivers a stillborn baby. Immediately following, Max – a recovered alcoholic – tells her he wants a divorce and heads back to the bottle. Divorced and devastated, they head their separate ways. Max finds Jesus, and Zoe throws herself into her work as a music therapist. Zoe also meets a woman named Vanessa, and falls in love with her. Zoe and Vanessa marry, and decide they want to use the three remaining embryos from Zoe and Max’s fertility treatments to try and make it happen. Zoe needs Max’s permission to take the embryos, and when newly right-wing Max finds out its to have a baby with Vanessa, decides the embryos should go to his own wealthy brother and sister-in-law who’ve been having fertility issues as well. From there, its a courtroom drama as Zoe and Vanessa’s lawyer (who works for GLAAD) and Max’s lawyers (including a TV preacher) go head to head over these three embroys. Religion, Homosexuality, Marriage, and what makes a family are all discussed and debated, and even those who claim to be saints aren’t innocent.
With likable characters, and a plot that could absolutely happen in today’s world, “Sing You Home” is riveting, and keeps you on the edge of your seat until literally the last paragraph. Though there are clear good guys and bad guys (I’ll bet you can already tell who’s who) the characters don’t seem like cliches.
If Picoult has a weakness, it’s crafting casual, witty dialogue. Her characters seem more realistic while testifying in court than they ever do in their day-to-day interactions, even between the couples. Picoult’s solution to this seems to be to drop in a handful of pop-culture references every time two normal people have to have a normal conversation. Which is vaguely annoying, but fortunately the book is good enough that it can be overlooked.
I would say that if there was a list of books women shouldn’t read while pregnant, this should be included. From the miscarriages to the stillborn baby, becoming a parent in Picoult’s world is never a rose garden.
*Please note: “Sing You Home” comes complete with a CD of songs to accompany the novel. Picoult wrote the words, but the music was written and performed by Ellen Wilber. The songs are sweet, and largely acoustic country. Though I applaud Picoult for playing with the idea of doing music and a book that correspond, the songs pretty much all sound the same. That said, Wilber has a really nice voice and it’s a sweet companion to the novel.