Sing You Home follows the story of Zoe, Vanessa, and Max. After almost a decade of marriage and unsuccessful attempts to conceive with the aid of fertility treatments, Zoe and Max Baxter divorce and begin building their own separate lives. Max finds himself staring at the bottom of a bottle, until he finds salvation in the conservative Eternal Glory Church after a near-fatal, alcohol-induced car accident.
Meanwhile, Zoe, a music therapist, befriends Vanessa and their friendship ultimately blossoms into love. Soon after marrying, the two decide to try for a baby using the three remaining embryos from Zoe and Max's fertility treatments—a decision that brings Max and his new Christian community crashing into their lives. An emotionally draining court trial for custody of the embryos ensues, testing the limits of faith, love, and the definition of family.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. An original, accompanying soundtrack is available for Sing You Home. Listen to the soundtrack with your book club members and discuss how the song choices reinforce or affect your reading. In what way did having a soundtrack enhance your understanding of Zoe's "voice"? If you had to create a soundtrack for this book, what songs would you include? Explain your choices.
2. Zoe also claims that "music is the language of memory" and has the power to reach through even the darkest corners of dementia and awaken long-forgotten memories. Are there any songs or albums that remind you of a certain time or place in your life? Do you think it's a blessing or a curse to be reminded of such memories through music?
3. Sing You Home is narrated by three different protagonists, each with their own unique voice and personality. Did this narrative device work for you as a reader? Do you think Zoe's story would've been portrayed differently if there had only been one narrator? Why or why not?
4. Change and metamorphosis are reoccurring ideas in Sing You Home. In your opinion, which characters changed the most? Which characters remained the same?
5. On page 75, Max reflects on the nature of change: "Actually, when you turn into someone you don't recognize, you feel nothing at all." Do you think this is true in all instances? How would you describe periods of self-discovery and metamorphosis like those Zoe experiences?
6. How do Zoe's struggles as a music therapist to Lucy give you insight into her character?
7. Whether it's an expert witness discussing the scientific proof of physiological differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals or Vanessa talking about experiences unique to the gay dating world, great attention is paid to the differences between gay and straight relationships throughout the novel. Do you think the story features any universal dating realities and relationship experiences that transcend different sexual orientations? Explain your answer.
8. Vanessa's mother and Zoe's mother have very different reactions when her daughter says, "I'm gay." Are both mothers justified in their reactions? Discuss.
9. During the trial, Max's attorney brings in expert psychologist Dr. Newkirk to discuss the detriment of same-sex parent households on children. Dr. Newkirk's argument is that a child needs the influence of both genders to ensure healthy development. Do you agree with her? Why or why not? Do you think the family structure ultimately created by Zoe, Vanessa, and Max is a healthy one?
10. When Zoe has doubts about being able to raise a son, her mom tells her, "'It's not gender that makes a family; it's love. You don't need a mother and a father; you don't necessarily even need two parents. You just need someone who's got your back.'" (p. 374) Do you agree with her? Explain your answer.
11. During his sermon, Pastor Clive argues against homosexuality by saying, "After all, I like swimming... but that doesn't make me a fish." (p. 399) Do you think his fish analogy is relevant? Do you find his interpretation of sexuality more or less accurate than Vanessa's assertion that "we're all just wired differently." (p. 111)