Newest Review: ... and explains the book title. Jane and Rebecca then proceed to drive across America to meet up with Jane's brother Joley. Joley leaves... more
Songs of the Humpback Whale
Songs of the Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult
Member Name: Ainat
Songs of the Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult
Date: 18/06/11, updated on 29/06/13 (59 review reads)
Advantages: Worth a read, interesting story, interesting style of writing
Disadvantages: Not Picoults best
I am a big Jodi Picoult fan. I havn't gotten around to reading all of her books yet, but I am working my way through them all. Despite this being her first book I have only recently managed to get around to reading it.
~Brief outline of the story~
Jane Jones has lived in her husbands shadow for years. Oliver Jones is a major name in the field of oceanography and at this point in his life has a huge interest in humpback whales. He is often away from home for long periods of time tracking these marvellous creatures. After a disagreement about whether he was going to be home for his teenage daughter Rebecca's birthday Jane leaves taking Rebecca with her. They drive, mostly due to Rebecca's fear of flying. Jane's brother Joley guides them across the States taking them on a route that allows them to see various points of interest across the country. This complex route is also meant to make them harder to track - after all, Oliver is an expert in tracking whales, surely tracking his wife and daughter wouldn't be difficult?
Once they reach Joley the story develops further. Joley is a farm hand on an apple orchard owned by a 25 year old called Sam. Jane and Sam have a firey relationship, but fall for each other despite the 10 year age gap (Jane is 35). Rebecca falls for Hadley - another of the farm hands and also Sams best friend. Again there is a 10 year age gap, Rebecca being 15 and Hadley 25. The book discusses these relationships including to whether they are considered 'appropriate' by the other characters in the story.
I have left out major details and how it all concludes - to find them out you'll have to give the book a go.
I did enjoy the book, but not as much as I have enjoyed other books by Jodi. I have to say this is my least favourite out of the ones I've read. Saying that though, it is still worth a read.
The story is written from several characters perspectives - a typical Jodi style of writing. What I did find a little confusing to start with though is that Rebecca tells us the story in reverse. So essentially we know some of the major points from her before we've actually reached that part of the story in the other characters chapters. Once I had gotten used to this style of writing it made the reading of the book much easier.
I personally found the majority of characters easy enough to identify with. I have read other reviews stating the opposite of this. Personally I found that I could identify with the characters and how their relationships developed throughout the book, but not as well as I have been able to with her other novels. Rebecca's character was the one I found most interesting, and I did enjoy reading her chapters. Sometimes it was easy to forget that she is only 15 - a mature young lady. I also enjoyed Hadleys character and understanding his thoughts on the events that were happening in front of him. Jane was a pretty average character if I'm honest, as was Oliver. Sam's character at first comes across as a little bit of a bully in some respects, but as you get to know a bit more about him he becomes a much more likeable character. Joley was the only character I didn't really identify with at all throughout the book. I didn't know how to interpret his actions. At one point I was worried that this book was going to take a real 'brother in love with sister' twist. This is implied, but thankfully doesn't take over the main storylines of the book.
Overall I would say that this is a pretty average read. I would recommend giving it a go, but at the same time isn't a book I'm going to pick up again in a hurry. Certainly isn't one of Picoult's best, I think from reading it alone it is obvious that it is one of her earliest. I did find some aspects of it really interesting, such as the crossing America, and learning a little about some of the landmarks. I also enjoyed some of the key relationships between some of the main characters. The book does drag in some places though.
I bought my copy from a local charity shop, however Songs of the Humpback Whale is currently on Amazon for £4.99 with free delivery. Alternatively you can buy from other sellers on Amazon from £2.39 new and £0.01 used but delivery charges may apply.
Summary: Average, but has some interesting themes running throughout