Keeping my hands out of the biscuit tin – Book Review: Songs of the Humpback Whale

Having fallen in love with Jodi Picoult’s writing by accident a couple of years ago, I now pick up copies of her books whenever I spot them in book exchanges or charity shops. This one was a book swap find and I was looking forward to reading it over the summer.

The Premise:

Jane Jones and her husband, Oliver have drifted apart. Oliver takes no interest in family life which always come in second place to his high-flying oceanography career tracking and studying humpback whales. One day, Jane reaches breaking point and leaves. The story follows Jane as she and her daughter drive from California to Massachusetts to stay with her brother while Oliver tries to track them down.

My thoughts:

Beware of spoilers from this point on

This is Picoult’s first published novel and it shows. The telling of the story from different characters’ perspectives, which she uses to great effect in her later writing, is confusing in this story when coupled with jumps back and forth in the chronology of the story without the time period being written about always being made clear.

I felt too that the characters were underdeveloped at best and poorly developed at worst. I found it pretty unbelievable that Jane, having spent a significant amount of time driving from coast to coast on a shoestring budget with her 15 year old daughter in toe to escape her abusive/inattentive husband, would simply turn around and drive all the way back when he turned up to bring her home. This might have had more weight had more have been made of Oliver’s efforts to track her down, but he seemed to have a pretty easy time of it. He even managed to rescue a stranded humpback whale whilst he was looking for her! Surely this would have further convinced Jane of his skewed priorities rather than make her realise that he really did love her after all.

Overall, I was really diasppointed with this book and would give it a score of 1/5. I will continue to read Picoult’s later writing but will avoid the earlier stuff.

Thanks for reading,


Have you read this book or anything else by the author? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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