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Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices    by Jodi Picoult order for
Songs of the Humpback Whale
by Jodi Picoult
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2001 (1992)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Horrified when she loses control and slaps her husband, Jane Jones flees the house and, along with her teenage daughter, makes a journey across the United States to join her brother in Massachusetts. The trip serves to allow Jane to see herself, her life and her husband from a different perspective. Jane's husband, a noted oceanographer and an expert on humpback whales, embarks on a journey of his own to find his daughter and wife. He discovers himself along the way as a person he is not very content to be.

I like Jodi Picoult's books - Salem Falls, Plain Truth, The Pact - and I would pick up any without question. However, The Songs of the Humpback Whale had me a bit confused in its jumping back and forth between real time and the past. The story being told in five voices added to the complexity. But as it became easier to determine just where the book was in time and who was speaking, I enjoyed it very much.

The soul-searching done by the five characters was painful at times to absorb, but kept the novel moving along at a rapid clip. I was anxious to reach the end to find what each of those individuals would do. I was not as happy with the ending - I'm a romantic at heart, I think - but it was a good conclusion and one that could have happened in real life. The almost fifteen-year-old daughter Rebecca seemed a little too mature at times, but possibly was pushed into early adulthood by the actions of her parents.

Originally published in 1992, The Songs of the Humpback Whale has lost none of its polish. Join its cast of five in a worthwhile and illuminating journey.

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