Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Zoe Baxter is a 41 year old Music Therapist who is married to Max, a landscaper and former alcoholic. Zoe has known she wanted to be a mother her whole life, and, after three miscarriages, it looks like her dream is finally about to come true…Until she delivers her stillborn baby at 28 weeks. After weeks of emotional recovery, she decides she wants to go through another round of IVF. Sure, the same thing could happen again and sure, there are health implications for her, but Zoe is determined to become a mother. When Zoe tells this to Max, he is shocked and upset that she would go through these lengths. He demands a divorce and moves out immediately. She finds solace in a female counselor at a local school which she occasionally works at. Soon, her friendship with the counselor (who is younger and less likely to have the fertility issues which Zoe is living with) becomes romantic and the couple decide that they want to use the three remaining embryos which Zoe and Max still have frozen at the hospital to have their own child. Meanwhile, Max has found God and is in opposition of Zoe’s new relationship. When Zoe asks to use the remaining embryos, Max takes Zoe to court over them. This results in a high-profile, precedent-setting case with obsessive media coverage and way too many religious extremists.
This book was pretty boring for me, which I initially blamed on the types of books I have been reading recently: thrillers, suspenses (that’s totally not a word), etc. I figured I just spent so much time on those, the lack of suspects and twist endings bored me. Until I read the Washington Post review of this book today, in which they say that this is not the Jodi Picoult book to convert people into fans. The ending did redeem a little bit of the boring factor for me, but this certainly wouldn’t be one of my go-to recommendations. The characters were well-developed, I just didn’t feel very connected from the story–and when I did, it was only out of annoyance that Max is such a tool.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen is a junior in high school when his crush, Hannah Baker, kills herself. Two weeks after her death, he returns home from school to find a package on his doorstep with 7 cassette tapes inside. He struggles to figure out a way to listen to the tapes (cuz, you know, it’s the 21st century) but finally clears off (and figures out how to use) his father’s old stereo in the garage. To his surprise, Hannah’s voice comes out of the speakers, informing him that the 7 cassettes contain 13 people (and reasons) who ultimately contributed to her decision to end her life. This copy of the tapes is to be passed around between all 13 people in order of when they appear in the tapes. If the tapes stop circulating among the 13 students, Hannah threatens that a second set of tapes will be released–this time, to the entire school. The book is written as a transcript of the tapes, with Clay’s thoughts (and, like 3 conversations) interjecting throughout.
This was a really fast, very interesting read for me. The whole book takes place over the course of one night, and I think I finished all 300 pages in about two days because I didn’t want to put it down. Also, I think the fact that it’s Young Adult Fiction probably also helped me get through it so quickly (I didn’t know that until I started reading some online discussions about this book a few days ago). It is an amazing and totally necessary read for teens and anyone who needs a reminder about how everything you do and say affects the people around you.
Sidenote: when I was reading online discussions about this book, a few people asked if this would be a good read for a suicidal teen. The answer to this question is absolutely not. I think this book would, more than anything, help justify suicide and even provide ideas as to how to go about it. It’s a great read, but should be kept far away from anyone having suicidal thoughts.