Between the lines

…by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Delilah is a teenager. An outcast at school thanks to injuring one of the popular girls. A quiet girl. Whose father walked out on her and her mother years ago. Delilah finds solace in books as that way, you don’t have to live the life you are currently living. However, unlike most teenagers, Delilah seems to have taken a liking to a fairy tale. And what’s more, she seems obsessed with it much to her mother’s dislike. The reason Delilah gets hooked on to this story in the first place is because like her, the main character, Prince Oliver, did not know much of his father either. Her obsession with the book grows as Oliver begins speaking to her.

Oliver is trapped in the fairy tale and wishes to know what life would be like in the outside world. He is unhappy having to play the same role over and over again. Through Delilah, he finally finds a reader he can communicate with. And hopefully, she can help him escape the world of the fairy tale.

What must Delilah have to go through to rescue Oliver?

Does Oliver have his wish come true?

What is it like for characters of a book once the book is closed?

To know all that and much more, you have to read Between the Lines.

This book is unlike Jodi Picoult’s other books mainly because it’s a concept that her daughter came up with and therefore caters to a young adult audience. Hence, as an adult reader, you  need to suspend belief and take the story for what it’s worth. It is a beautiful journey and has its laugh-out-loud moments to heart-stopping ones and on the whole, is like a fairy tale. I thought the concept of characters in a book having a world of their own after the reader stops reading was a brilliant concept! Kudos to Samantha for that! Any avid reader would get hooked on to something like that. For instance, in my case, while reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder about Harry Potter and their world when we shut the book. :)

Samantha Van Leer is a name to watch out for in the future. If at such a young age she could come up with a brilliant concept such as this book, I think we are in for a treat! If you are a Jodi Picoult fan, you should know that it is not like any of her other books so it’s important not to compare this to them. Remember again, it’s for young adults and it is fantasy. It is a book to read to escape and get into another world. I give it a rating of 3.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Note: This was originally posted on my personal blog.

Lone Wolf

…by Jodi Picoult.

Lone Wolf is Jodi Picoult’s latest book. Luke Warren, a man who lived and cares for wolves, is in a car accident with his daughter Cara. The accident leaves him in a coma and Cara with a broken shoulder. His son Edward returns from Thailand at the request of his mother, Georgie (and Luke’s now ex-wife). Cara is praying for a miracle despite the doctors’ prognosis. Edward doesn’t think his father would want to live a life of an invalid given that he has been an adventurous man and thinks they should pull the plug. However, he has been estranged from his father for 6 years…can he really be the one to make a decision? At the same time, Cara, who has lived with her father for 4 years doesn’t really have a say given she is still a minor at 17 years and 9 months.  Now they have to battle it out: should they keep Luke alive or should they let him go?

In true Jodi Picoult style, we get to see the perspectives of almost all the characters including Joe, Georgie’s second husband, Helen, a guardian appointed by the court, and Luke himself in the form of chapters from his book. As always, the reader is torn. Who do you go with? Cara makes a damn good case for her father. But then, Edward’s reasons make sense too. You find yourself sympathising and agreeing with different characters on different instances. The wolves are a metaphor for family as well. And while Luke Warren is a man who understand wolves, you wonder whether he ever understood the importance of family. Picoult makes you have moral dilemmas yet again with her latest installment. When is right to let someone go especially given some people miraculously do recover? Is it right to voluntarily end a person’s life when they aren’t necessarily brain dead and their heart is still beating? All this and so much more makes for a good and interesting read.

I give it a rating of 4.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Sing you home

‘Sing you Home’ is the latest book by Jodi Picoult. It begins with Zoe Baxter, a music therapist by profession and her husband Max Baxter eagerly awaiting the birth of child as Zoe is 28 weeks pregnant. More importantly, she is pregnant this far after a history of fertility problems for the couple leading them to resort to IVF. The IVF journey hasn’t been an easy one for the couple with Zoe miscarrying a few times. However, this time looks different and Zoe is quietly optimistic.

Until tragedy strikes.

Zoe loses her child yet again. And this time, Max decides he can’t go on with this, thus ending their marriage.

As Zoe tries to pick up the pieces of her life, a friendship between her and Vanessa Shaw, a school counsellor she meets through business develops. Slowly this friendship blossoms into love. Yes, same-sex love. To Zoe, her feelings for Vanessa (who she knows is lesbian) come as a surprise initially. But then she realises that it is perfect and meant to be. They get married in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal unlike Rhode Island where they live.

In the mean time, Max has found his peace in the bottom of a bottle. A bottle of alcohol, that is. And then he is saved and finds God. He finds redemption in an evangelical church of which his brother Reid and sister-in-law Liddy are members. The pastor Clive Lincoln welcomes Max with open arms as does his brother.

When Max finds out about Zoe and her ‘lifestyle’, he is shocked. And thinks she is a sinner according to what the Bible says.

Zoe and Vanessa realise that they can have a child as Vanessa has a ‘functioning’ uterus and they have frozen embryos from Zoe and Max’s attempts. So when Zoe approaches Max in order to get his signed consent to give them the embryos, things take a turn for the worse.

Zoe and Vanessa are provided with a lawsuit thanks to Max and his church’s views. The church’s argument is that same-sex couples are an abomination and a child cannot be brought up appropriately in this environment. They also believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and individuals choosing that path need to be saved. And the church representatives will go through any means to ruin Zoe’s and Vanessa’s name for their cause.

Will Zoe ever be able to mother her own flesh and blood?

Will Max succumb to the pressures of the church and sabotage his ex-wife’s life?

Is homosexuality a choice?

What exactly is a traditional family?

All these and so many deeper questions about family, children and same-sex relationships are posed throughout the book. Picoult once again uses her style of narrating the story through the three main characters’ eyes — Zoe, Max and Vanessa. As the reader you are able to empathise with them all equally. Max’s views are not completely right-wing and hence, you can see where he is coming from too. And you are able to empathise with his confusion regarding how a woman he was married to for almost a decade is now married to someone of the same-sex. Picoult also explores the ups and downs of a same-sex relationship and sometimes the turmoil of coming out of the closet. Personally, I was able to relate to Vanessa the most, maybe because of her profession as a school counsellor. On the other hand, I wasn’t a big fan of Zoe’s career as a music therapist and if anything, that was the downside for me in the book. There is a client that Zoe works with and it is a bit disappointing to see the ‘therapy’ for the depressed and suicidal teenager. The characters that play the fanatical church members are portrayed very realistically because they do exist. And you are able to loathe them.

All in all, it’s a book true to Picoult’s style that dissects relationships and moral issues together. And it was probably a lot more personal to her because her oldest son came out of the closet. It was also different to read a book where the main protagonists are gay and not portrayed in a stereotypical or camp manner but rather just like any other couple. Hopefully, it will open up the narrow-minded people’s eyes. And yet, the reality probably is that there will still be those who will support the likes of Pastor Clive.

I give it a rating of 4.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!