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Sing you home, p.1
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       Sing You Home, p.1

           Jodi Picoult
 
Sing You Home


  Sing You Home

  ALSO BY JODI PICOULT

  House Rules

  Handle with Care

  Change of Heart

  Nineteen Minutes

  The Tenth Circle

  Vanishing Acts

  My Sister's Keeper

  Second Glance

  Perfect Match

  Salem Falls

  Plain Truth

  Keeping Faith

  The Pact

  Mercy

  Picture Perfect

  Harvesting the Heart

  Songs of the Humpback Whale

  AND FOR THE STAGE

  Over the Moon: An Original Musical for Teens

  ATRIA BOOKS

  A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  1230 Avenue of the Americas

  New York, NY 10020

  www.SimonandSchuster.com

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright (c) 2011 by Jodi Picoult

  Song lyrics created for Sing You Home copyright (c) 2011 by Jodi Picoult and Ellen

  Wilber. Used by permission.

  The lines from "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in." Copyright 1952, (c) 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from COMPLETE POEMS: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Atria Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

  First Atria Books hardcover edition March 2011

  ATRIA BOOKS and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com.

  Designed by Jaime Putorti

  Manufactured in the United States of America

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Picoult, Jodi, 1966-

  Sing you home : a novel / by Jodi Picoult.--1st Atria Books hardcover ed.

  p. cm.

  1. Music therapists--Fiction. 2. Lesbian couples--Fiction. 3. Divorced people--Fiction. 4. Frozen human embryos--Fiction. 5. Human reproductive technology--Law and legislation--Fiction. 6. Human reproductive technology--Religious aspects--Fiction. 7. Domestic fiction. I. Title.

  PS3566.I372S56 2011

  813'.54-dc22

  2010041180

  ISBN 978-1-4391-0272-5

  ISBN 978-1-4391-4971-3 (ebook)

  Contents

  Acknowledgments

  Author's Note

  Chapter 1: Zoe

  Chapter 2: Max

  Chapter 3: Vanessa

  Chapter 4: Zoe

  Chapter 5: Vanessa

  Chapter 6: Max

  Chapter 7: Zoe

  Chapter 8: Max

  Chapter 9: Zoe

  Chapter 10: Vanessa

  Chapter 11: Max

  Chapter 12: Zoe

  Chapter 13: Max

  Chapter 14: Zoe

  Chapter 15: Vanessa

  Chapter 16: Max

  Chapter 17: Zoe

  Chapter 18: Max

  Chapter 19: Samantha

  List of Audio

  1. Sing You Home (4:39)

  2. The House on Hope Street (3:56)

  3. Refugee (3:06)

  4. The Last (3:25)

  5. Marry Me (2:59)

  6. Faith (4:01)

  7. The Mermaid (3:26)

  8. Ordinary Life (3:04)

  9. Where You Are (3:22)

  10. Sammy's Song (3:48)

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  The mark of intelligence is being able to surround yourself with people who know more than you do. For this reason, I have many people to thank who all had a hand in helping me create this novel. I am grateful to my brilliant medical and legal minds: Judy Stern, Ph.D., Dr. Karen George, Dr. Paul Manganiello, Dr. Michelle Lauria; Corporal Claire Demarais, Judge Jennifer Sargent, and the attorneys Susan Apel, Lise Iwon, Janet Gilligan, and Maureen McBrien. Thanks to the music therapists who allowed me to pick their brains and to tag along and share some remarkable moments: Suzanne Hanser, Annette Whitehead Pleau, Karen Wacks, Kathleen Howland, Julie Buras Zigo, Emily Pellegrino, Samantha Hale, Bronwyn Bird, Brenda Ross, and Emily Hoffman. I'm also indebted to Sarah Croitoru, Rebecca Linder, Lisa Bodager, Jon Picoult, Sindy Buzzell, Focus on the Family's Melissa Fryrear, and the Box Turtle Bulletin's Jim Burroway.

  I always thank my mom, Jane Picoult, for being an early reader, but this time I'd also like to thank my grandmother Bess Friend. We should all be so open-minded in our nineties.

  Thanks to Atria Books: Carolyn Reidy, Judith Curr, Mellony Torres, Jessica Purcell, Sarah Branham, Kate Cetrulo, Chris Lloreda, Jeanne Lee, Gary Urda, Lisa Keim, Rachel Zugschwert, Michael Selleck, and the dozens of others without whom my career would never have reached the heights it has. And David Brown--it is really nice to have you back on Team Jodi. I am so grateful that (when I announced we'd be publishing this book with original music) your first reaction was a wild buzz of excitement--not utter panic.

  To Laura Gross--remember how you told me about the dead guy on the train? And remember how I said one day I was going to use that? Here it is. I knew you'd be a wonderful agent, but I think I underestimated what a good friend you would become.

  To Emily Bestler--I just don't think there are very many editors who can move seamlessly in a discussion with their authors from why the SATs are a tool of torture to how to fix the ending of a novel. Or in other words, I really hit the jackpot. We've been together so long now I think we'll have to be surgically removed from each other's hips.

  My publicists, Camille McDuffie and Kathleen Carter, are the best cheerleaders an author could ask for. Over the past thirteen years, you've taken me from "Jodi who?" to having fans spot me in the grocery store and ask for autographs on their shopping lists.

  There is something pretty remarkable about this book--it's musical. When I knew I was writing in part about gay rights, I wanted my readers to literally hear the voice of my main character; to take this from a political arena to a personal one--and so you get to hear Zoe pouring out her heart and soul to you through her songs. To that end I have to thank Bob Merrill of Sweet Spot Digital, who produced the CD; Ed Dauphinais and Tim Gilmore, who played mandolin and drums respectively; and Toby Mountain of Northeastern Digital, who mastered the CD. But most of all I have to thank Ellen Wilber, who agreed to be the voice of Zoe--and the creator of her music. Ellen is one of my dearest friends, and we've written over a hundred songs together for original children's musicals that are performed to raise funds for charity. She has more musical talent in her pinkie finger than I could hope to have in a lifetime, and she has the biggest heart. She wrote the songs you'll hear; I wrote the lyrics--and it's her crystalline voice you're listening to on the CD. There aren't enough words for me to use to thank her--for thinking that this project would be something fun to do . . . and, more important, for our friendship.

  Finally, as always, thanks to Tim, Kyle, Jake, and Sammy. You guys are the soundtrack of my life.

  For Ellen Wilber--Your music has completely enriched my life; your friendship has meant so much to me and my entire family. I'm not sure I can remember which one of us is supposed to be Louise and which one is supposed to be Thelma, but I don't think it matters as long as we're on the road together.<
br />
  And for Kyle van Leer--From the moment you were born in a hurricane I knew you were going to be one of a kind. I don't think I could possibly be any more proud of you if I tried--not just for who you've become but for the individual you have always been.

  Somehow, I know you two won't mind sharing a dedication page.

  AUTHOR'S NOTE

  The CD that accompanies this book was created to bring the character of Zoe to life for the reader by giving her a real voice. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to mix the music with the novel, but while Ellen Wilber and I were writing the songs and lyrics, we envisioned each track paired with a chapter. You'll see section breaks between the chapters that identify where we placed each song, just in case you'd like to play them in the places where they correspond to what Zoe is feeling and thinking at that moment. Enjoy!

  To listen, visit www.SimonandSchuster.com/SingYouHome.

  No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.

  --THOMAS JEFFERSON

  "There is audio content at this location that is not currently supported for your device. The caption for this content is displayed below."

  Sing You Home (4:39)

  ZOE

  One sunny, crisp Saturday in September when I was seven years old, I watched my father drop dead. I was playing with my favorite doll on the stone wall that bordered our driveway while he mowed the lawn. One minute he was mowing, and the next, he was facefirst in the grass as the mower propelled itself in slow motion down the hill of our backyard.

  I thought at first he was sleeping, or playing a game. But when I crouched beside him on the lawn, his eyes were still open. Damp cut grass stuck to his forehead.

  I don't remember calling for my mother, but I must have.

  When I think about that day, it is in slow motion. The mower, walking alone. The carton of milk my mother was carrying when she ran outside, which dropped to the tarred driveway. The sound of round vowels as my mother screamed into the phone to give our address to the ambulance.

  My mother left me at the neighbor's house while she went to the hospital. The neighbor was an old woman whose couch smelled like pee. She offered me chocolate-covered peppermints that were so old the chocolate had turned white at the edges. When her telephone rang I wandered into the backyard and crawled behind a row of hedges. In the soft mulch, I buried my doll and walked away.

  My mother never noticed that it was gone--but then, it barely seemed that she acknowledged my father being gone, either. She never cried. She stood stiff-backed through my father's funeral. She sat across from me at the kitchen table that I still sometimes set with a third place for my father, as we gradually ate our way through chipped beef casserole and mac-and-cheese-and-franks, sympathy platters from my father's colleagues and neighbors who hoped food could make up for the fact that they didn't know what to say. When a robust, healthy forty-two-year-old dies of a massive heart attack, the grieving family is suddenly contagious. Come too close, and you might catch our bad luck.

  Six months after my father died, my mother--still stoic--took his suits and shirts out of the closet they shared and brought them to Goodwill. She asked the liquor store for boxes, and she packed away the biography that he had been reading, which had been on the nightstand all this time; and his pipe, and his coin collection. She did not pack away his Abbott and Costello videos, although she always had told my father that she never really understood what made them funny.

  My mother carried these boxes to the attic, a place that seemed to trap cluster flies and heat. On her third trip up, she didn't come back. Instead, what floated downstairs was a silly, fizzy refrain piped through the speakers of an old record player. I could not understand all the words, but it had something to do with a witch doctor telling someone how to win the heart of a girl.

  Ooo eee ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla, bing bang, I heard. It made a laugh bubble up in my chest, and since I hadn't laughed all that much lately, I hurried to the source.

  When I stepped into the attic, I found my mother weeping. "This record," she said, playing it over again. "It made him so happy."

  I knew better than to ask why, then, she was sobbing. Instead, I curled up beside her and listened to the song that had finally given my mother permission to cry.

  Every life has a soundtrack.

  There is a tune that makes me think of the summer I spent rubbing baby oil on my stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. There's another that reminds me of tagging along with my father on Sunday mornings to pick up the New York Times. There's the song that reminds me of using fake ID to get into a nightclub; and the one that brings back my cousin Isobel's sweet sixteen, where I played Seven Minutes in Heaven with a boy whose breath smelled like tomato soup.

  If you ask me, music is the language of memory.

  Wanda, the shift nurse at Shady Acres Assisted Living, hands me a visitor pass, although I've been coming to the nursing home for the past year to work with various clients. "How is he today?" I ask.

  "The usual," Wanda says. "Swinging from the chandelier and entertaining the masses with a combination of tap dancing and shadow puppets."

  I grin. Mr. Docker is in the final throes of dementia. In the twelve months I've been his music therapist, he's interacted with me twice. Most of the time, he sits in his bed or a wheelchair, staring through me, completely unresponsive.

  When I tell people I am a music therapist, they think it means I play guitar for people who are in the hospital--that I'm a performer. Actually, I'm more like a physical therapist, except instead of using treadmills and grab bars as tools, I use music. When I tell people that, they usually dismiss my job as some New Age BS.

  In fact, it's very scientific. In brain scans, music lights up the medial prefrontal cortex and triggers a memory that starts playing in your mind. All of a sudden you can see a place, a person, an incident. The strongest responses to music--the ones that elicit vivid memories--cause the greatest activity on brain scans. It's for this reason that stroke patients can access lyrics before they remember language, why Alzheimer's patients can still remember songs from their youth.

  And why I haven't given up on Mr. Docker yet.

  "Thanks for the warning," I tell Wanda, and I pick up my duffel, my guitar, and my djembe.

  "Put those down," she insists. "You're not supposed to be carrying anything heavy."

  "Then I'd better get rid of this," I say, touching my belly. In my twenty-eighth week, I'm enormous--and I'm also completely lying. I worked way too hard to have this baby to feel like any part of the pregnancy is a burden. I give Wanda a wave and head down the hall to start today's session.

  Usually my nursing home clients meet in a group setting, but Mr. Docker is a special case. A former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he now lives in this very chic elder-care facility, and his daughter Mim contracts my services for weekly sessions. He's just shy of eighty, has a lion's mane of white hair and gnarled hands that apparently used to play a mean jazz piano.

  The last time Mr. Docker gave any indication that he was aware I shared the same physical space as him was two months ago. I'd been playing my guitar, and he smacked his fist against the handle of his wheelchair twice. I am not sure if he wanted to chime in for good measure or was trying to tell me to stop--but he was in rhythm.

  I knock and open the door. "Mr. Docker?" I say. "It's Zoe. Zoe Baxter. You feel like playing a little music?"

  Someone on staff has moved him to an armchair, where he sits looking out the window. Or maybe just through it--he's not focusing on anything. His hands are curled in his lap like lobster claws.

  "Right!" I say briskly, trying to maneuver myself around the bed and the television stand and the table with his untouched breakfast. "What should we sing today?" I wait a beat but am not really expecting an answer. "'You Are My Sunshine'?" I ask. "'Tennessee Waltz'?" I try to extract my guitar from its case in a small space beside the bed, which i
s not really big enough for my instrument and my pregnancy. Settling the guitar awkwardly on top of my belly, I start to strum a few chords. Then, on second thought, I put it down.

  I rummage through the duffel bag for a maraca--I have all sorts of small instruments in there, for opportunities just like this. I gently wedge it into the curl of his hand. "Just in case you want to join in." Then I start singing softly. "Take me out to the ball game; take me out with the . . ."

  The end, I leave hanging. There's a need in all of us to finish a phrase we know, and so I'm hoping to get him to mutter that final "crowd." I glance at Mr. Docker, but the maraca remains clenched in his hand, silent.

  "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack; I don't care if I never get back."

  I keep singing as I step in front of him, strumming gently. "Let me root, root, root for the home team; if they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three--"

  Suddenly Mr. Docker's hand comes flying up and the maraca clips me in the mouth. I can taste blood. I'm so surprised I stagger backward, and tears spring to my eyes. I press my sleeve to my cut lip, trying to keep him from seeing that he's hurt me. "Did I do something to upset you?"

 
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