About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

#66: Sing You Home

Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult (New York: Atria Books, 2011).

"Zoe Baxter has spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true -- she is seven months pregnant. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare -- one that takes away the baby she has already fallen for, and breaks apart her marriage to Max.

"In the aftermath, she throws herself into her career as a music therapist -- using music clinically to soothe burn victims in a hospital; to help Alzheimer's patients connect with the present; to provide solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa -- a guidance counselor -- asks her to work with a suicidal teen, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then, to Zoe's surprise, blossoms into love. When Zoe allows herself to start thinking of having a family, again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos that were never used by herself and Max.

"Meanwhile, Max has found peace at the bottom of a bottle -- until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor -- Clive Lincoln -- has vowed to fight the 'homosexual agenda' that has threatened traditional family values in America. But this mission becomes personal for Max, when Zoe and her same-sex partner say they want permission to raise his unborn child.

"Sing You Home explores what it means to be gay in today's world, and how reproductive science has outstripped the legal system. Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation -- two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind -- enter the courtoom? And most importantly, what constitutes a 'traditional family' in today's day and age?"

Opening Line:
"One sunny, crisp Saturday in September when I was seven years old, I watched my father drop dead."

My Take:

One of Picoult's better ones. The fact that she limits herself to three characters' different vantage points (Zoe's, Vanessa's, and Max's) helps, as does the remarkable lack of surprise dead children at the end. (Other Picoult veterans will understand.) As one review I came across noted, the book's treatment of the fundamentalists isn't exactly even-handed, and something about Max's brother Reid just seemed too #$%^& perfect to be true (Reid's equally perfect wife, Liddy, works a wee bit better, partly because we see more of her and learn at least something of what makes her tick), but hey -- for a light but not too light piece o' chick lit, it was about what I'd hoped for and better than I'd expected.

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