New book: Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult ’87 (Atria)
The author: Known for exploring topical social issues — from teen violence and medical ethics to sexual abuse — and wrapping them in absorbing page-turners, Picoult has penned 18 novels. Many of them explore the connections between a parent and child. In her latest tale, she examines the desire for children, the definition of family, and the challenges same-sex couples face in marriage and adoption.
The plot: After years of infertility and miscarriages, Max and Zoe’s strained marriage falls apart and the two find different ways to cope. After the divorce, Zoe immerses herself in her career as a music therapist and eventually finds new love with Vanessa, a guidance counselor. Max drinks too much until he joins an evangelical Christian Church. After Zoe and Vanessa marry, Zoe asks Max to use their frozen embryos to start a family with Vanessa. The request starts a legal battle when Max sues for custody of the embryos.
From the book:
One sunny, crisp Saturday in September when I was seven years old, I watched my father drop dead. I was playing with my favorite doll on the stone wall that bordered our driveway while he mowed the lawn. One minute he was mowing, and the next, he was face-first in the grass as the mower propelled itself in slow-motion down the hill of our backyard.
“I thought at first he was sleeping, or playing a game. But when I crouched beside him on the lawn, his eyes were still open. Damp cut grass stuck to his forehead.
“I don’t remember calling for my mother, but I must have.”
Review: “Never one to shy away from controversial issues, this time Picoult tackles gay rights, reproductive science, and the Christian right,” wrote Library Journal. “She forces us to consider both sides of these hot topics with her trademark impeccable research, family dynamics, and courtroom drama.”