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Book Review: Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult

Updated: May 29

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Have you ever really listened to the song of a whale? The slow, haunting melody that seems to carry with it the wisdom of the ages. What lessons would they teach us if we could comprehend the meaning of their tones? What truths could we uncover if we paid greater attention to understanding the voices of loved ones around us speaking our very own language?

Whales change and adapt their songs over time. Relationships fare better when human beings do as well. That’s the primary message of Jodi Picoult’s debut novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale. The story is told in 5 voices, with chapters alternating throughout between 5 different characters describing the same events from their own unique perspectives. It also jumps around in time a lot, so as each chapter begins you must continually sort out where in the timeline you have landed. I found this a bit confusing, as there wasn’t a lot of consistency in the progression of the story, but on the other hand it created a sense of working out a puzzle for the reader. By the final pages Picoult had tied up all the loose ends, but I do think she could have delved more deeply into character development had she not had so many elements to focus on elsewhere. For a first novel, this was a lot to take on, but overall she pulled it off and held my interest. I genuinely did want to know how it all would end, even though I wished one character in particular had made different choices.

Oliver, the workaholic. Jane and Joely, siblings from a broken home, still working out their childhood issues as adults. Rebecca, an angsty teen coming of age. Hardworking Sam, struggling to prove his worth to everyone, most of all himself. Each consumed in their own private doubts, fears and pains. Each reaching for connection and understanding, as their paths intersected along the way. Together, but in many ways still alone.

I’m impressed enough by this first read, that I’m going to try more books by this author. I have heard from others that she gets better and better. This one is generally a good read, and worth a look.

Click Here to Read it for Yourself

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