Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: 1st March 2011 by Atria
Length: 446 pages
Warnings: open discussion of sexuality, drink, sex, abortion, self harm, profanity 14+
Other info: Jodi Picoult has written many other books dealing with issues in a courtroom.
Summary : One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds
Review: After ten years trying and failing to get pregnant, Zoe is close, but it still goes wrong. After yet another miscarriage, her husband Max files and gets divorced, and he turns to drink and his brother's religion. Zoe meanwhile is focussing on her work with Vanessa, and soon finds herself in love with her. Then Zoe thinks once again of the embryos that she created with Max, and has found another way of starting a family. But simply asking for his permission to use them soon turns into a legal battle featuring the Church, Gay rights, and a huge question about what makes up a family.
I was already a huge fan of Jodi Piccoult, so this is just another one that I'm reading because I already knew and loved the author. This tackles new moral questions, this time concerning families and homosexuality, and does what Piccoult always does, and shoves it into a courtroom. Despite the fact it follows a similar outline to her other novels (introduce family with big issues, all-for-all in the courtroom, semi-happy ever after), it never gets old and this one is no exception.
The characters, I got very attached to, especially Zoe, Vanessa and Liddy. I never liked the Pastor or Wade, possibly because of their views on Zoe and Vanessa raising a child, or maybe just because of their attitudes to people in general with different opinions. I think Max was the one who underwent the most development from start to finish.
These issues about families and homosexuality were well addressed. Throughout I was very firmly on Zoe and Vanessa's side for getting the embryos, but I could see where Max's side were coming from, at least on the personal level of wanting the best for what would be his child and so thinking it would be best to give the embryos to his brother and sister-in-law. The other reasons, the ones provided by the church he belongs to, saying that Zoe and Vanessa would make terrible mothers because they're lesbian, are completely terrible, and I don't see how Wade managed to get the Court to see things from that point of view.
The plot unfolded well, with some things we expected and some things we didn't cropping up at various turns. The development in the case towards the end was completely unexpected, but the final ending was predictable on two counts. I won't spoil the suprise.
I love the multiple perspective style of writing. It gives everyone a voice of their own, and gives the characters some real backstory and depth, as well as letting us see the main plot as the opposition sees it.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a well woven book about what a family is by modern standards.