Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

One sunny, crisp Saturday in September when I was seven years old I watched my father drop dead.

This sentence begins poorly but ends well. Unfortunately, unless the narrator is still eleven, this stinks of back story. But still the reader is forced to read on despite him/herself to see how dear Daddy dies. We aren't disappointed. The narrator is playing with a doll while Daddy's mowing the lawn; then he drops dead, and the lawnmower keeps on going down the hill. The narrator, we assume a girl, later buries her doll, Sweet Cindy. A nice set of images.

Fine writing that evokes sympathy. Early in the story we begin to care about a character. Forward narrative blends seamlessly with back story. Yet, even though the author gets me caring for the character early, she hasn't given me a reason to care, unless I have the Mother Teresa complex: caring for caring's sake. What I mean is, there's no early forward narrative conflict - only some interesting character bio.

It goes on and on with back story, though luckily back story that's interesting, revealing an unusual character who decapitates her Ken doll and cuts off Barbie's hair with fingernail scissors. Characters with quirks always hook me, as they do for most people. Other people's insanity always turns heads. It is on the strength of the characterization that gives this a pass.

First thing said:

"This record...it made him so happy."

Verdict: Pass

Theodore Moracht

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