SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK WHALE by Jodi Picoult

SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK WHALE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A family crosses the continent to find themselves, which they do on an apple farm in Massachusetts, in one of those too carefully crafted first novels in which literary ambition exacts a toll greater than a minor work can afford. This would-be epic of self-discovery is told in alternate chapters by the three travellers from California--Jane Jones, daughter Rebecca, and husband Oliver, a well-known whale-expert- -with supplementary voices provided by Sam, the apple farmer, and Joley, Jane's brother and Sam's assistant. Rebecca tells her version of the journey backwards--a journey that begins in their San Diego home when Oliver announces that he'll have to miss Rebecca's upcoming 15th birthday, and Jane, no longer able to contain her pent-up frustrations and anger, hits him. Fearing that she's becoming like her father, Jane, joined by Rebecca, flees the house and heads across the country to Joley, who adores Jane, his childhood protector against their abusive father. The trip, which includes a visit to the site of the air crash in which toddler Rebecca was one of five survivors, is planned by Joley to make Jane finally use the ``untapped strength'' she has ignored. Oliver goes after them, but as he travels he too realizes that this journey has a deeper purpose. On the farm both Rebecca and Jane fall in love, but a tragic accident, Joley's advice to leave because ``sometimes the ideal way isn't the best,'' and Oliver's confession of love and repentance--all will convince Jane to go back home. ``It is the first time I can remember,'' she says, ``having my eyes wide open while I look at my future.'' And about time. Picoult tries to do more with the old clichÇ of wife and family coming to terms with the past, but it isn't enough. The clichÇ lives, while the characters and the story struggle--and fail--to survive the author's pretensions.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-571-12927-7
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992




Kirkus Interview
Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
authors of OFF THE PAGE
May 19, 2015

Meet Oliver, a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale and transported into the real world. Meet Delilah, the girl who wished Oliver into being. In bestseller Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha van Leer’s new young adult novel, Off the Page, it’s a miracle that seems perfect at first—but there are complications. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to play Oliver’s role in the pages of Delilah’s favorite book. But just when it seems that the plan will work, everything gets turned upside down. We talk to the mother-daughter team on Kirkus TV. View video >

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