June 2, 2011

Best book of the year so far?

With the exception of last year's misfire, I love Jodi Picault's books (Go ahead, judge me!); they are ripped-from-the-headlines fiction with heartfelt social statements. I don't think her books are "chicklit", others may disagree. And that's not a judgement, I love chicklit (hello Jennifer Weiner!)

And her new novel, Sing You Home, is one of her best. Never one to shy away from controversial issues, this time Picoult tackles gay marriage and adoption rights, infertility and reproductive science, divorce, and the Christian right. And while she clearly comes out on the liberal side of issues, along the way she forces us to consider both sides of these hot topics with her usual very extensive research.

Sing You Home is the story of Zoe, a music therapist, who after years of infertility and stress, is dumped by her husband. She becomes a lesbian, he becomes a born-again right wing bible thumper. They wind up in court over their frozen embryos, amidst a media frenzy.

Despite the huge amounts of research in the book, this one is a page-turner, with a cast of colourful characters --- the wacky mom, the too-perfect brother, the charismatic pastor on a mission to fight the homosexual agenda... wait, we have an agenda? Where's my copy?

Apparently the book format comes with a CD of original songs, which I missed out on as I read it on my kindle. I am okay with that, I don't need songs about my reading. Except when I am reading Sesame Street books.

Sing You Home is told through the alternating perspectives of Zoe, her ex-husband Max, and her lesbian partner Vanessa. While mainly focused on relationships, it includes issues like alcoholism, cancer, infertility and intolerance.

Picoult's trademarks, namely super dramatic courtroom scenes and general angst, are all over this one, and yet it works. My only beef with Sing You Home is that the ending is sudden and saccharine given how real the story feels up until then. Still, up until that point she had me -- I didn't know where it was going, and I really couldn't wait to find out.


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