Jodi Picoult takes on complex and controversial issues in “Sing You Home” (Astria Books, $28 hardcover, $16 paperback). And she treats them with competence and compassion.
When Zoe Baxter loses her baby at 28 weeks after years of trying to become a mother, her husband, Max, leaves her.
He can't face the thought of additional in vitro treatments leading to more disappointing miscarriages.
Max turns to liquor and to his brother and sister-in-law and their conservative church.
Zoe, a music therapist, is devastated, but she throws herself into her work — using music to make life easier for the elderly in nursing homes, children in hospitals and troubled students in the local high school.
Vanessa, the high school guidance counselor, provides friendship and consolation, and the two women enter into a sexual relationship, to Zoe's dismay.
They are married in a nearby state where gay marriage is allowed.
Both women want children. Zoe knows she will not be able to carry a child, but Vanessa could.
Zoe recalls she and Max had three embryos frozen during their last attempt to have a child.
She asks Max to release them to her.
This sets up the major conflict of the novel.
Max is persuaded by his brother and the preacher to fight, on moral grounds, the release of the embryos to the two women.
A high-powered lawyer retained by his brother files a lawsuit.
Zoe is represented by a woman lawyer who is paid by an organization supporting the rights of same-sex couples.
The legal maneuvering and courtroom action comprise about a third of the story and provide a gripping finale to a fascinating novel.
— Kay Dyer