In her first novel, Jodi Picoult interweaves five rich narrative voices to tell a story of love, loss, and self-discovery. The voices belong to a mother, her daughter, and three very different men. …more
This powerful and affecting novel demonstrates that there are as many truths to a story as there are people to tell it.
Jane had always lived in somebody's shadow. Escaping a childhood of abuse by marrying oceanographer Oliver Jones, she finds herself taking second place to his increasingly successful career. However, when her daughter Rebecca is slighted, Jane's dramatic stand takes them all by surprise.
The publisher: Atria Books, 1992 (Book )
Leaving Oliver and his whale tapes behind in San Diego, Jane and Rebecca set out to drive across America to Uncle Joley and the sanctuary of the Massachusetts apple orchard where he works. Joley directs Jane across the United States in a series of letters waiting for her in designated post offices. Each letter gives concise directions to the next post office; each letter provides Jane with a chance to reflect on her forgotten past.
Oliver, used to tracking male humpback whales across vast oceans, now has the task of tracking his tantalizingly unpredictable wife across a continent. To do so he must learn to see the world-- and even himself-- through her eyes.
Songs of the Humpback Whale is a powerful and sensitive novel of family life that questions how songs are passed down from male speaker to male speaker, but also examines the female tradition of listening that women unconsciously pass on to their daughters.
“A structural tour-de-force… Picoult has the true storyteller's ability to evoke a world on the page and pull the reader into it.”
— The Women's Review of Books
“A memorable and entertaining ride, [rendered] with great skill and rich detail.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Jodi Picoult is a more convincing argument for reincarnation that anything Shirley MacLaine has ever written: How could a 26-year-old first novelist have so much knowledge of marriage, of mothering a teenager, of separation and reconciliation, unless she's been down this road before in another guise? Picoult's imagination is formidable.”
— Los Angeles Times Book Review
“In the surrealistically twinkling hegira sections of this story… Jodi Picoult spreads her wings and catches an updraft.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“Charming and poignant, Picoult's novel is even better after a second reading. ”
— Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md. (From Library Journal)
“What if one of us dies? What happens then?'
I reached around and turned on the light to see the clock: 3:20 A.M. 'I suppose we'd remarry.'
'Just like that!' Jane exploded. She sat up in bed, facing away from me. 'You can't just pick a wife off a shelf.'
'Of course not. I just meant that if I happened to die young I'd want you to be happy.'
'How could I be happy without you? When you get married, you make the biggest decision of your life; you say you're going to spend eternity with one person. So what do you do if that person leaves? What do you do once you've already committed yourself?'
'What do you want me to do?' I asked.
And Jane looked at me and said, 'I want you to live forever.”