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Book Review: Sing You Home

by Kimberly on March 9, 2011 · 17 comments

Do you ever have the feeling of being so engrossed in a book that you lose yourself in it? Of being to the point of no return, where you will let everything else fall by the wayside because all you want to do is find out how it ends?

That’s what this book was like for me.

Book Review: Sing You Home

Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, Sing You Home was officially released on March 1st. On March 3rd, I downloaded the audio program through Five days later, I was finished. Mighty fast for a working mom with two kids, if you ask me 🙂

The short version of this post is that I HIGHLY recommend Sing You Home! Picoult tackles two–as one reviewer put it–“provocative” issues: infertility and gay marriage. The beauty of her writing style is that she approaches these subjects without judgment and from multiple perspectives. Few issues are truly black-and-white and, with this novel, you get inside the heads of characters who’s perspectives vary greatly:

  • There’s the main character, who finds love with another woman and, despite infertility issues, wants nothing more than to have a child.
  • There’s the life-long lesbian who has spent a lifetime defending who she is.
  • And there’s the recovering alcoholic, who turns to the church and struggles with his ex-wife’s newfound love and continued desire to have a child.

As someone who has had loved ones struggle with infertility issues and who was raised by two women, I was touched by Picoult’s perspective of the issues. It was touching

The main character, as you may know, is a music therapist. It’s easy to find fault with how other people describe my profession–and I will admit that there were some descriptions and techniques described in the book that I would not personally have used. But these are minor differences…nuances, really. I felt Picoult described and represented our profession well. She seemed to understand what music therapy is about and was able to describe it honestly, realistically, and emotionally.

I also recommend you read the author’s commentary and description of her research on the Sing You Home website. Much as it brings more meaning to a piece of classical music if you read the program notes, reading about Picoult’s history and interest in these topic areas brings another layer of appreciation to her novel.

So are you convinced yet? Do you plan to read Picoult’s latest novel? And if you are reading it–or have already read it–what are your thoughts? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Roia March 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm

So looking forward to having some time to read this book, but I have to wait until after the conference. Argh! Thanks for the review. It is so cool that there’s a fictional account of a music therapist now. That must mean we’ve entered the sphere of people’s consciousness! Yay!

Anne Barbano March 10, 2011 at 5:36 am

Kimberly your description of book certainly has me interested! Thank you!!! ~ ANNE

Michelle Strutzel March 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

You are a speedy reader! Didn’t this book come out like, a couple days ago? Thank you for the review! I will definitely read this one.

And I agree with Roia! Between the news, a movie at the Sundance Film Festival, and a book by a best-selling author… Our profession is making huge leaps practically overnight.

Julie Parker Neal March 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Your review is really nice, Kimberly. I finished the book last night and enjoyed it very much. I felt that Picoult did represent music therapy very well. She clearly did her research. I think she tried to represent the broad variety of applications of music therapy in Zoe’s practice. I am not sure how many music therapists actually work with that range of clientele in a singular practice, but it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Zoe, I must say, is one incredible musician to be able to just pick up her guitar and play and sing all of the mentioned music on the spot. She is exactly my age (shhh!), so it actually made me want to get going on memorizing more music! 🙂

I also agree that part of what makes Picoult’s writing so engaging is her character development. She really goes into detail, and the fact that she writes from the perspectives of the characters themselves makes the reader feel more connected to the them.

The subject areas in Sing You Home were emotionally heavy, as is typical of Picoult’s literature. I feel like I need to go get a light, silly British Chick Lit book to balance it out! 🙂 Thanks for your review!

Kimberly March 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Julie–You bring up some good points…especially about the character’s vast repertoire! She did pretty easily pick up almost any song she needed. Maybe her professional singing career helped in this way? I guess the diversity of her caseload didn’t cross my mind. My CO business catered to medical/oncology, abuse/neglect, autism, and neuro-rehab. Equally diverse, perhaps? Thanks for commenting! ~Kimberly

Kimberly March 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

@Michelle Isn’t it?!? It’s so exciting! With this one I was a speedy reader. But I literally could not put it down Tuesday night–I listened/read for 5 hours! My husband was very patient with me 🙂 @Anne & @roia I hope you enjoy the book! ~Kimberly

Julie Parker Neal March 12, 2011 at 3:03 am

Yes, Kimberly, your practice in Colorado was very diverse, as are many MTs’ practices, including my own. My point is that it isn’t necessarily the “norm” for a music therapist to practice with such diversity at one given point in his/her career. Many MTs work in one setting, with one “population” or age group, and many MTs choose to specialize in one specific area. I am pleased that Picoult represented the diversity of our discipline, rather than making Zoe a specialist, only because it more fully educates the public about the possibilities. Definitely not a criticism, just a point to ponder, I suppose.

Speaking of Zoe’s performing – I love the self care there! I am pleased to see that this was addressed as well. It is so common for MTs to get “burned out” when we don’t care for ourselves musically. That is, keeping an element of our musical lives that is for our own benefit, rather than always being focused on the care of others. Go, Zoe!

I agree with Michelle, as well, about the recent press about Music Therapy. It is a very exciting time for our field! 🙂

Kimberly March 16, 2011 at 9:46 am

Julie–Thanks for clarifying! Yes, I see your point and agree that most music therapists don’t practice with such diversity at any given point. You also bring up a GREAT point about how the character Zoe takes care of her “musical self” through performing. A lesson for us all! ~Kimberly

Vicki March 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I could not put this book down. It is great reading by Jodie Picoult. I also love the way she developed her characters with their thoughts and feelings. The controversial issues are handled well and with dignity for each character. I have been a music therapist for years, and I am so happy that an author chose our profession for the main character in her book. I have a diverse population in my private practice, and I loved how Picoult could show the benefits of music therapy in each clinical situation. Most of all, I LOVED the ending. Happy reading!

Vicki March 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

P.S. One of my colleagues, a nurse, just told me she was reading the book, and she thought of me when she was reading about the clinical situations. That’s a good thing! :-))

Janice March 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I, too, have to wait to read the book until after conference! Maybe I should schedule a book club on my show in a couple months and have people on who read it. Anybody interested? Just email me if you want to be on that show:

Kimberly March 19, 2011 at 8:31 am

I think that’s a great idea! Group “book club” discussion about the book. Count me in! ~Kimberly

Joy in Motion March 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

Thank you for the review, Kimberly! I’m glad I came across your blog recently, because I knew just a little about dance therapy and had no idea about music therapy. Thanks to your review, I picked up the book and finished it in just a few days. What a wonderful read! I loved getting a glimpse into the world of a music therapist and hearing from other music therapists on their opinions and experiences. And all of this while mediating on another book about music. It’s difficult not to find joy and peace when surrounded by pure music and the various forms it takes. Thanks again!

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