I'm a Jodi Picoult fan...that is, if a fan is defined by buying an author's work when it's first released, no matter the subject content.I've enjoyed all of her books, some to a greater or lesser degree.
As a writer, I find her style intriguing and her prose especially enlightening. A few words and she describes the whole. "He smelled like summer." Can't you see, feel, smell this guy? More so than if you read about his sinewy muscles, tall stature, aluring gray eyes. Or "It's like waking up from the best dream to find a hundred knives at your throat." You can't help but feel the terror, the pain in the awakening. Picoult's words are sensual and effective, she teaches, she promotes, she's disciplined. Each story is a message about life, conflict, controversary.
'Sing You Home', her newest release, is, in my humble opinion, the best and worst of Picoult. I don't think the subject to birth, whatever the cost, or taking a new lover is extraordinary. But Picoult's character Zoe struggles with these two contritions of human behavior via invitro fertilization for a physical act she can not surmount, has a still born and then shortly after the tragic event, falls in love again. With Vanessa. Suddenly Zoe is lesbian and out to prove that it really isn't an issue to be in love with the same sex after you've so feverently been in love with the opposite sex who happened to be a doting, patient, tolerant husband.
I understand Picoult's quest to standardize, justify all love relationships...got that...but this is a convoluted journey to a maybe happy ending. Frustrated forty-year-old with hormonal anxiety? A little baby girl with two mommies? Okay...nice journey. But along the way, Picoult assaults all conservative values and sheds a not so glowing light on the most liberal, go with the flow agenda of the extreme left. Fair and balanced, or not, she attacks Beck, Rush and the very, very right arm of Christian ideology. Okay, I get it about the Bible thumpers and those who are totally intolerant of Jews, Muslims, atheists and homosexuals. If you think you are a good, loving Bible practioner, be aware that scriptures are full of delusions and/or reckless weapons that target the weak minded. Good people do not tip so far to the right that equilibrium can never be regained. I got that. But what is insulting to the centered intellectual is the fact Picoult lumps all people who don't fall into the category of total acceptance of the left as wrong-doers, malacious and vengeful.
I won't accuse her of being another one to throw darts at Bush for Katrina but in all other realms of human frailities and news media injustice, she leaned toward bashing the entire conservative establishment. Or...perhaps it was her character Zoe who leaned toward the far, sliding down under, left. Did smart Jodie let her character ride face down that slippery slope? I've always thought, based on my readings of Picoult works, that she's an intelligent, sensitive, wise woman who understands controversy, the power of it's wave and that it, the controversy, can save or destroy what it encounters in the rush to judgement.
Remember Nineteen Minutes when the story revealed how various factors played a role in the destruction of young, innocent people even though one lone soul performed the dirty deed? In her most recent story, Sing You Home, Picoult seems to justify the unnecessary. With one monumental leap, she implies that love is love. Sexuality, the physical act, is not a compelling, biological drive but an exercise of free will. How do the Homosexuals who believe they were 'born that way' feel about his free fall scenario? If you love, you love. It has nothing to do with man or woman...it's an emotional experience between two people who share a friendship and common interest. The permanent bond of two needy souls? For a cerain time it may work---the convenience of need. Picoult is so convincing in her portrayal of Max and Zoe's love and their quest for a child that it circumvents the end result of the union between Zoe and Vanessa.
And in that, Picoult has created the most complex story in her body of work. A clever manipulation of the procreative process...what the nature of man and woman can not accomplish, two women can. Great for those who believe men are not a necessary factor in the family stucture. In fact, Picoult affirms the belief that women can accomplish anything by introducing two husbandless mother's of the sensitive, socially worthy, dedicated defenders of the underprivileged--Zoe and Vanessa. Two plus two equals more happiness. And then to stun us all, Picoult does a King Soloman deed and grants the singular right of birthhood to her same sex lovers. Is Max, the heterosexual-ex-husband, a hero when he gives up his fertilized sperm? Or is artificial insemination, a fertilized ovum, the real benefactor?
In this scenario, love has no need to conquer all...it's all about having a baby, no matter the cost (nix the idea I mean financial). From the start of this book, I felt a real need to put it aside. And yet as I turned another page, my interest peaked, the intensity accelerated. The desire to understand reached...a climax...of singular proportion. The need for resolution kept me turning. But was I satisfied with the ending? I have no answer...now. The journey continues. Can there be a happy ending for a child who has two mommies and a part time daddy? Can a variety of honest, worthwhile, important social values embrace all the various non-traditional renditions of friendship, love and procreation and survive?
I don't know. But I know I'm a Jodie Picoult fan. I'll read her next book even if I have no idea what the controversy will be. Perhaps far left ideology will be attacked and we'll understand more about why Picoult thinks it isn't intelligent or wise to fall far from the lines of center. Perhaps we'll learn that humans need structure, biological uniformity as much as they need unconditional love. I don't know...I'm learning, I'm waiting for answers.