28 Dec 2016

SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK WHALE.

SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK WHALE by JODI PICOULT.

BACK COVER BLURB: (Contains what might be considered spoilers, scroll over darkened text to read. TT): 

The first time Jane Jones tried to leave her husband, her daughter almost got killed. This time, she's going to do it right.

Jane escaped a childhood of abuse into the refuge of marriage, only to find history repeating itself. And when her husband's neglect extends to their daughter too, she know's it must stop.

Taking Rebecca with her, Jane runs away, seeking the only place of safety she knows. But however far she runs, she cannot escape the question always on her mind: how can she save her daughter, when she couldn't save herself?


FIRST SENTENCE {PROLOGUE: REBECCA}: November 1990

In the upper right-hand corner of the photo is a miniature airplane that looks as if it is flying right into my forehead.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 249}: I gazed into the mirror, expecting to find outlined the very parts that I could say I hated - but I was standing tall, thin arms at my sides. I  knew from this alien rhythm in my heart that I had become a different person. I did not understand how, under the circumstances, I could possibly look the same.

SOURCE: A charity shop buy.

MY THOUGHTS: Presumably a case of a writer who has yet to 'find her feet' as an author of books. Having read and largely enjoyed most of her other books (though oddly enough not so much her recent ones), I was sorely disappointed by Songs Of The Humpback Whale.

A total mish-mash of a read.

Not told from one point of view, nor two, nor three, nor four but .... five. All written in the first person, some of the events recounted not just by one individual but several.

As if this didn't make for confusing reading ...

The fact that the chapters were not written in chronological order nor consistently dated made the time-line extremely difficult to follow. That one of the characters told her side of the story in, wait for it, reverse chronological, even more challenging.

Sometimes written in letter form (not a favourite format of mine to begin with), the italics they were printed in, small and faint, also made for difficult reading. 

Then there were intermittent tracts given over to the biology (typically the song) of whales - something that was to be re-hashed using elephants instead of whales in a later book - which added nothing to the flow of the narrative. 

As for the characters? Talk about dysfunctional!!!!

There was spousal violence, child-hood sexual abuse, a brother in love with his sister, an extra marital affair, an under-age sexual relationship. In other words, bar one or two, just about every cliche that those familiar with Jodi Picoult's books have come to expect.


11 comments:

Kelly said...

Dysfunctional can either work really well or totally flop. I'm sorry this one wasn't good. I've still not read any of her books, but have two my brother recommended on my wish list.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Definitely sounds like a case of "too much for one book". Thanks for sharing though. I do like the books I've read by this author though!

Suko said...

Thank you for your honest review, Tracy. The book sounds very ambitious. This was the first (published) novel by Jodi Picoult. Please consider adding your link to my Jodi Picoult reading challenge, which has become a perpetual challenge. Thank you, Tracy!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Aw too bad. At least you liked her other work. Too many POVs can spoil a book easily. It is rarely done well when there are so many. At least you know she found her author feet eventually. :)

nightwingsraven said...

Tracy,
I always appreciate your honesty.
And I think I would borrow this
book from the library.
Raven

Brian Joseph said...

Though I tend to like flawed characters and stories told through letters, the other issues that you describe make this book sound like it is hard to read.

I find that many authors will continue to repeat the same themes and plot conventions. Based on your commentary it sounds as if Picoult does this. I find that this can work if the writer changes things enough so that he or she is exploring concepts from different angles. However, the writer need to be very good to pull this off.

Melliane said...

It's difficult for me to have multiple POVs

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy, That is a shame, but I guess we can forgive her as it was her first published novel. I’ve read one or two of hers and have enjoyed them in an ok kind of way, but nothing I would rave about. She is very popular though so perhaps we are missing something? Happy New Year :-)

Aunt Mary said...

Hi Tracy,
Thank you for the honest review,I can say that this book is not for me.Looking forward to read your next review.
Happy new year in advance :)

Gina R said...

I've actually not read her with before though it comes highly recommended. Think I'll not venture this one to be my first experience with her....

Literary Feline said...

I haven't read all of Picoult's books, although I have enjoyed what I've read by her. I tend to be picky about her books as they don't all appeal to me. This is one I haven't had the urge to read.