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)
13. When Max seeks guidance from Pastor Clive as to how he should react to Zoe's new relationship with Vanessa, Pastor Clive tells him a story about Pastor Wallace, who allowed homosexuals into his congregation. Pastor Clive believes that Pastor Wallace is a model for tolerance and that, while homosexuality shouldn't be accepted, gay members of the church should be tolerated. Do you believe Pastor Clive practices what he preaches in the novel? What about when he says that the Eternal Glory Church isn't "anti-gay" but rather "pro-Christ"? (p. 219) Is tolerance even possible without acceptance? Explain.
14. Despite being about a very specific relationship and a unique court case, Sing You Home addresses universal themes and ideas regarding family, love, and acceptance. Do you think this story reaches a wide audience, despite its unique specificities? Did you connect with the characters? Why or why not?
15. Several different story lines are left unresolved, such as Lucy's story and why she made allegations against Zoe, and how Max and Liddy eventually get married. Are there any subplots you wish the author had resolved or delved into more thoroughly? Are there any that you would've resolved differently?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Visit the author's website, jodipicoult.com, and learn more about Jodi Picoult and her seventeen novels.
2. Have life imitate art! Run a part of your discussion of Sing You Home as a court trial debate. Split your group into two opposing sides, such as team Zoe and team Max, and hold a debate over some of the novel's main themes and events.
3. Get the lowdown on the law. Learn about your state's civil union laws and discuss what laws (or lack thereof) you find most interesting.
4. Bring some music therapy to your book club and create a group discussion soundtrack! Have each member bring in a song, whether a personal favorite or a track that's reminiscent of the story, and play them during your discussion.
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