Jodi Picoult Songs of the Humpback Whale Book
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Jodi Picoult’s incredible novel depicts a genuinely charged marriage that changes course in one hazardous second.
Now and again finding your own voice involves tuning in to the heart…
Jodi Picoult’s amazing novel depicts a genuinely charged marriage that changes course in one touchy moment…For years, Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her better half, famous San Diego oceanographer Oliver Jones. However, during a raising contention, Jane turns on him with a disturbing instability. Out of resentment and dread, Jane leaves with their high school little girl, Rebecca, for a crosscountry odyssey outlined by letters from her sibling Joley, controlling them to his Massachusetts apple ranch, where astounding self-disclosures anticipate. Presently Oliver, a specialist at following humpback whales across immense seas, will look for his better half over a landmass—and locate another approach to see the world, his family, and himself:
An excerpt from Songs of the Humpback Whale
“What if one of us dies? What happens then?’
I reached around and turned on the light to see the clock: 3:20 A.M. ‘I suppose we’d remarry.’
‘Just like that!’ Jane exploded. She sat up in bed, facing away from me. ‘You can’t just pick a wife off a shelf.’
‘Of course not. I just meant that if I happened to die young I’d want you to be happy.’
‘How could I be happy without you? When you get married, you make the biggest decision of your life; you say you’re going to spend eternity with one person. So what do you do if that person leaves? What do you do once you’ve already committed yourself?’
‘What do you want me to do?’ I asked.
And Jane looked at me and said, ‘I want you to live forever.”
Short View Of chapter One:
T O TIM, FOR EVERYTHING YOU’VE GIVEN ME
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author is grateful to many people and institutions
for the detailed information they provided: Sarah Genman, the librarian at the
New England Aquarium; the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies; the Long
Term Research Institute in Lincoln; Honey pot Orchards and Shelburne Farm in
Stow. Special thanks to Katie Desmond and her tireless work at the Xerox
machine, to everyone in my family who read the manuscript and supported my
efforts, and to those people whose lives and experiences I borrowed to create
fiction. Finally, this book would not have been published without the help of
Laura Gross, my agent, who always believed in me; and Fiona McCrae, my
editor, whose expertise and faith were invaluable. For this special paperback
edition, I’d also like to thank Emily Bestler, who had the delightful idea that my
fans would want to read everything I’d written, and then made it possible.
In the upper right hand corner of the photo is a miniature airplane that looks as if
it is flying right into my forehead. It is very tiny and steel-blue, a long bloated
oval cut in the middle with its own wings. It is the shape, really, of the Cross. It
was the first thing my mother noticed when we received the photo in
Massachusetts. “You see, Rebecca,” she said. “It’s a sign.”
When I was three and a half, I survived a plane crash. Ever since, my mother has
told me I am destined for something special. I can’t say I agree with her. I do not
even remember. She and my father had had a fight-one that ended with my
mother crying into the garbage disposal and my father taking all of the original
paintings off the walls and stashing them in the trunk of his Impala for
safekeeping. As a result, my mother took me out to my grandparents’ breezy
yellow home near Boston. My father kept calling. He threatened to send the FBI
if she didn’t send me back home. So she did, but she told me she couldn’t go with
me. She actually said, “I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t stand that man.” Then she
dressed me in a little lemon knit outfit with white gloves. She turned me over to
a stewardess at the airport, kissed me goodbye, and said, “Now don’t lose the
gloves. I paid a bundle.”
I don’t remember much about the crash. The plane broke all around me; it split in
half right before row number eight. All I recall was trying so hard to hold tight
onto those gloves, and the way people didn’t move, and not being sure if it was
all right to breathe.
I don’t remember much about the crash. But when I was old enough to
understand, my mother told me that I was one of five survivors. She said that my
picture was on the cover of Time-me crying in a burnt little yellow outfit with
my arms outstretched. A farmhand had taken the photo with a Brownie camera
and it had gone out to press and into the hearts of millions of people in America.
She told me about fires that reached the sky and singed the clouds. She told me
how insignificant the fight with my father was.
A trucker took this photo of us the day we left California. In the corner is that
airplane. My mother’s hair is tied up in a ponytail. Her arm is casually draped
around my shoulder, but her fingers rest unnaturally tight on my neck as if she is
trying to keep me from running away. She is smiling. She is wearing one of my
father’s shirts. I’m not smiling. I’m not even looking at the camera.
The trucker’s name was Flex. He had a red beard and no moustache. He said we
were the best scenery he’d seen since Nebraska. Flex used his own camera-we’d
left in too big a hurry to take ours. He said, “I’ll take your picture and you give
me your address and I’ll send it.” My mother said what the hell, it was her
brother’s rental address. If Flex turned out to be a lunatic and burned the place
down no one would really be hurt.
Flex sent the photo to us care of Uncle Joley. It came in a used, readdressed
manila envelope snaked with a line of twentyfive one-cent stamps. He attached a
Post-it note for my mother that she did not let me read.
I’m telling you the story of our trip because I’m the only one who has really put it
all together. It involved all of us-Mom, Daddy, Uncle Joley, Sam, even Hadleybut
we all see it different ways. Me, I see it going backwards. Like a rewinding
movie. I don’t know why I see it like this. I know, for example, that my mother
When we got the photo from Flex, we all stood around the kitchen table looking
at it-me, Mom, Joley and Sam. Joley said it was a nice picture of me, and where did we take it? Sam shook his head and stepped back. “There’s nothing there,” he said. “No trees, no canyons, nothing.”
“We’re there,” my mother said.
“That’s not why you took that picture,” Sam said. His voice hung at the edges of
the kitchen like thin silver. “There’s more. We just all can’t see it.” And like that,
he walked out of the room.
My mother and I turned to each other, surprised. This had been our secret. We
both looked instinctively at a spot in the highway to the right of our bodies. It is
the place where California becomes Arizona-a change that truckers can sense in
the pavement; that for everyone else remains unmarked.