Review: Songs of the Humpback Whale (and a giveaway!)

Songs of the Humpback Whale – Jodi Picoult

published 1992 – 346 pages

From the back cover –

Jodi Picoult’s powerful novel portrays an emotionally charged marriage that changes course in one explosive moment… For years, Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned San Diego oceanographer Oliver Jones.  But during an escalating argument, Jane turns on him with an alarming volatility.  In anger and fear, Jane leaves with their teenage daughter, Rebecca, for a cross-country odyssey charted by letters from her brother Joley, guiding them to his Massachusetts apple farm, where surprising self-discoveries await.  Now Oliver, an expert at tracking humpback whales across vast oceans, will search for his wife across a continent – and find a new way to see the world, his family, and himself: through her eyes.

My thoughts –

So this is Jodi Picoult’s very first novel (and reading this means I’ve read ALL of her books finally), and you can definitely see how her writing has progressed a LOT since this novel was written.  To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot that I enjoyed about this book.  It actually seemed very chick-lit formulaic to me – wife has mid-life crisis, leaves her husband, “ruins” her kid’s life, has an affair, then realizes she has all she ever wanted at home, isn’t really in love with her new man, and comes running back to the arms of her forgiving husband… booorrrinnnggg.  Besides that, there just seemed to be several elements to this story that didn’t fit – for example, the relationship between Jane and her brother Joley struck me as SUPER weird… I can’t really put my finger on it, but it just wasn’t normal.  And the ending… my goodness, did I detest the ending.  Let’s just say there was a tragedy that was completely unnecessary and added absolutely nothing to the story, and I have no idea why she decided to write the ending like she did. 

I will say this though – this woman really knows how to write well-developed characters.  I kept turning the pages because I was very concerned about how their lives were going to turn out.  If it weren’t for these characters, the novel would have been pretty bad in my book – but the well-written characters brought this book up to the level of ok for me.

Since Natasha was sweet enough to send me this book after I had mentioned that I really wanted to read it, I am going to pass the favor along.  I’ll be giving this copy away to one lucky Picoult fan!  Leave a comment here to win – to get two entries, mention the giveaway on your blog (if you do this, please send me the link to your post so that I don’t have to go hunting, thanks!).  I’ll be drawing the winner on Monday, September 1st (that’s one week from today) so make sure to enter by Sunday the 31st to be considered.  And make sure to leave me an email address where you can be reached. 🙂 Good luck!