Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Songs of the Humpback Whale

photo from
I finished Jodi Picoult's Songs of the Humpback Whales over the weekend.  Although I have loved every book I've read by Picoult, this is not my favorite.  In fact, on Saturday I was telling Richard about the book and found myself getting a bit annoyed.  

I've been trying to decide how to recommend this book to students, but honestly, I'm not sure I can.  I can easily give a book talk that will turn them on to the book, but recommend?  I'm just not sure.

Firstly, there's no real purpose for the overly extended drive that the two protagonists, a mother/daughter duo, take from San Diego to a small town in Massachusetts.  Who, traveling cross country on a very limited budget, will go an extra 1000 miles?  No one.  

Secondly, there are too many repeats of parts of the story.  Told from the points of view of several characters, the story is told by one character then retold by another.  I get it: different people see things differently.  But not in this novel.  It's as if Picoult simply took advantage of cut and paste on her computer.  
Jodi Picoult
photo from her website

Finally, I was very disappointed with Jane's behavior.  She leaves her husband, Oliver, at the beginning of the novel and drives across the U. S. to meet her brother and, after arriving, falls in love with Sam.  That she has an affair is one thing.  She falls for him, believing that he is her soul mate.  But then she leaves Sam to go back to Oliver.  No.  Not real life.  Sure, Jane is upset.  Jane cries.  But leave?  

Either Jane is married to Oliver and, saying she believes in marriage, does not have the affair.  Or she is miserable in her marriage, which she says over and over, and leaves Oliver for Sam.  Having had an affair and finding her true self in the process, she would not throw it all away.  

Daughter Rebecca,15, is aware of her parents' bad marriage and accepts that her mother is happier with Sam.  Why would she expect Jane to return to California as Jane seems to think?  A daughter who loves her mother as much as Rebecca does would not expect her mother to throw away her new-found happiness. 

My distaste for this novel is okay, however.  I'm now reading another Picoult novel, Vanishing Acts and, already on page 125, I'm loving it as much as I love and recommend My Sister's Keeper and House Rules.  

1 comment:

daydreamsdustbunnies said...

I haven't read it, but you have my curiosity aroused. I might need to read it just to see if I dislike it, too.