As surely as the cha-chung! of a Law & Order intro, the annual arrival of a new Jodi Picoult novel signals two things: torn-from-the-headlines social issues organ donation, date rape, school violence and a tidy resolution by the final fade-out.
Sing You Home, her latest, offers a twofer, addressing both the rights of gay parents and those of the "pre-born," more commonly known as frozen embryos. It also comes with a CD of warbly original songs co-penned by the almost frighteningly prolific Picoult, as if to antagonize the underachievers among us. The disc does serve a narrative purpose: Each track corresponds to a chapter title in the story of Zoe, a Rhode Island music therapist desperate to have a baby but unable to carry to term. When that struggle finally rends her marriage to the taciturn Max, she finds post-divorce solace in a friend who happens to be a woman.
Picoult's characters often come off less like true human beings than ideological stand-ins, and her conflicts can feel overly simplified. But Sing deftly personalizes the political, delivering a larger message of tolerance that's difficult to fault. B