This month’s Across The Page features three books to fit any mood: Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home; Malena Watrous’ If You Follow Me; and Malinda Lo’s Huntress.
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (Atria Books)
Bestselling author Jodi Picoult does not shy away from controversy. She has published 18 novels — the last four of which hit the top of the New York Times bestseller list — and is known for taking on challenging subjects, such as the intersection between science and law, the ethics of medicine, and the impact and cause of violence in schools.
In Picoult’s newest novel, Sing You Home, she takes on gay rights through the lens of three characters: Zoe, a music therapist who we meet as her hopes for a child and her marriage both come crashing down hard; Max, who after his divorce from Zoe is encouraged by his family to join the Eternal Glory Church and becomes born again; and then there’s Vanessa, a lesbian who Zoe soon finds herself falling in love with.
All of these characters and the tension that exists within Zoe and Max’s late-life transitions seem like enough to explore in a story. But Picoult takes it one step further by adding in the complication of Zoe’s desire to have Vanessa carry one of the embryos left over from Zoe and Max’s previous fertility procedures. Max, who is upset and confused by his ex-wife’s new romantic relationship with a woman, gets advice from the pastor at Eternal Glory and decides that he wants ownership of the embryos. He plans to donate the embryos to his sister-in-law, who is also struggling with infertility issues, and takes Zoe to court.
The trial between Zoe and Vanessa against Max (and, essentially, Eternal Glory) highlights both the extremely passionate and divergent views people hold on same-sex parenting and the vague laws that surround reproductive science. It is clear that Zoe and Vanessa are in the right here (duh!), but one of the book’s strengths is how Picoult treats Max and Eternal Glory with empathy and respect. They have a voice here and a well-researched perspective.
Sing You Home is a compelling story by a writer capable of influencing peoples’ opinions on this important subject.