Songs of the Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult


ISBN - 978-0-340-89731-7
GENRE - Fiction
PUBLISHERS - Hodder Headlines
BINDING - Paperback
PAGES - 346

AUTHOR - Jodi Picoult

BEST-SELLERS - My Sister's Keeper, Sing You Home, Keeping Faith

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

For years, Jane has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned oceanographer Oliver Jones. But during an escalating argument, Jane turns on him in an impulsive fit of rage. In anger and fear, Jane leaves with their teenage daughter, Rebecca, for a cross-country road trip guided by her brother Joley 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.


“I believe in love. I think it just hits you and pulls the rug out from underneath you and, like a baby, demands your attention every minute of the day.” 
“If you want to love a parent you have to understand the incredible investment he or she has in you. If you are a parent, and you want to be loved, you have to deserve it.” 
“I don't know the first thing about holding together a family, especially one that resembles an heirloom vase, shattered but glued back together for its beauty, and no one mentions that you can see the cracks as plain as day. ” 
“The apple . . . came before Adam and Eve in the story of creation. It had to have been there at least three years because that's how long it takes for a new tree to bear fruit.” 

FL Speak - Look what I found? Picoult's debut novel :D

I've heard people crib about the quality of writing in this one. It seems people aren't happy with her first book as compared to her later ones. Bah! People are never satisfied. As for me, this was certainly different from the others I read and I loved it more.

If you've read the synopsis above, you know this is going to be one memorable read. Since this is Picoult's first novel, published when she was just 26, there are bound to be a few deviations from the Picoult we now know. But to expect that this one would disappoint, was never in my mind.

Songs of the Humpback Whale has five POV's. And the timeline is completely jumbled up. You'll actually have to pay attention and/or in my case, go back to a previous chapter again to see if you read what you read. By the end of page 50, you know the end of the story. And this is when Picoult starts writing.

The book starts with a crash. Rebecca is only a child and her plane crashes while she's flying back to her father. That fatal crash serves as the much needed bridge to close the differences between Jane and Oliver as they start being a family again. Fast forward the novel to the last chapter. DAFUQ!

Yes. And now watch Picoult magically weave the story together. For e.g., if A is chapter 1 and Z is chapter 2, the 3rd chapter is B and the fourth is Y. The 5th chapter is C and the 6th is X until they all come down to a common point of time where the timeline merges. Its beautiful, its poignant. You'll actually have to read the tale to be stunned.

Jane and Oliver. Oliver and Jane. When Oliver, who has more love and time for his whales than his family, threatens to walk about of their child Rebecca's birthday party due to work, Jane thinks she's had enough. Thus begins a road trip across the United States to her brother's place. And Oliver, only in their absence, does he realise, what he took for granted. Its easy to love Jane and hate Oliver. And its easy to connect to Oliver and hate Jane. Picoult proves again that no one is perfect. Who do you side with when you know Jane has been the perfect home maker and Oliver was having affairs? Who do you side with when Jane starts falling for a much younger man at her brother's apple orchard while Oliver is doing everything in his power to find his way to her? Who do you side with when 15 year old Rebecca and 35 year old Jane, fall in love with men who are both 25 years old? Who's love is right?

As i said, you'll know the tragic tale in the first few pages itself. What will help you to read on, is how they survive the coming storm. I'm reading one Jodi Picoult a month now, so as to make sure I don't run out of her. Also, there is only so much you can do to survive her books. Too many in few days will leave me crippled.

Vanessa is stunning in this novel. She's a 15 year old with the maturity of a 25 year old woman. Until love comes knocking ofcourse. The mom and daughter bondings across the width of America makes this book extra special. Not to forget the sights they witness along the journey. When am in the States, along with the tourist guidebooks, this novel will be my companion. If only to traverse the road travelled by them.

And then there are WHALES :D Oh, you'll love them! 

Reading Jodi Picoult is a blessing. That blasted woman picks up the outrageous topics and makes sure you'll end up loving and cursing her at the same time. Reading Jodi Picoult is also very fatal. You're bound to trip or bump your head in the wall because you simply can't put the book down while walking.

My Rating - 4/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-


  1. Ooh another Picoult!
    And her debut one at that...gorjusss!

    Though the whale-angle seems a little,you know,unnatural...or maybe that's because I haven't read it!:)

  2. Finally got down to reading some reviews and especially liked this one. Huge fan of Jodi Picoult's 'Handle with Care', so expecting quite a bit! First on my 'to read' list as soon as my boards are over!


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