Jane had always lived in somebody's shadow. Escaping a childhood of abuse by marrying oceanographer Oliver Jones, she finds herself taking second place to his increasingly successful career. However, when her daughter Rebecca is similarly treated, Jane's dramatic stand takes them all by surprise.
Leaving Oliver and his whale tapes behind in San Diego, Jane and Rebecca set out to drive across America to Jane's brother Joley and the sanctuary of the Massachusetts apple orchard where he works. Joley directs Jane across the United States in a series of letters waiting for her in designated post offices. Each letter gives concise directions to the next post office; each letter provides Jane with a chance to reflect on her forgotten past.
Oliver, used to tracking male humpback whales across vast oceans, now has the task of tracking his wife across a continent. To do so he must learn to see the world - and even himself - through her eyes.
'This powerful and affecting novel demonstrates that there are as many truths to a story as there are people to tell it.' - Publishers Weekly
Jodi Picoult is the author of sixteen bestselling and widely acclaimed novels. Read more about Jodi Picoult on her website at jodipicoult.com.au
As Picoult uses five voices to tell a complex tale of love, friendship and a Faulknerian family history, her mastery of language strongly individuates her characters. The primary voice in this accomplished first novel belongs to Jane Jones, a speech pathologist living in San Diego, Calif. Other narrators are her daughter Rebecca; her husband, Oliver, a marine biologist renowned for his research on the songs of humpback whales; her brother Joley; and her lover, Sam. When an argument between Jane and Oliver culminates in her striking him, Jane is shattered. A childhood victim of physical and sexual abuse, Jane has tried to submerge her memories, but this outbreak of violence causes her to reexamine her life. On a cross-country automobile trip, Jane and Rebecca travel to Stow, Mass., where Joley is living and where each woman meets the man she believes is her destiny. Jane relates the events that occur from San Diego to Stow, while Rebecca tells the story in reverse, flashing back from the climax. Their stories intersect in an Iowa cornfield that still bears the wreckage of the airliner on which then-three-year-old Rebecca was being sent back to her father during her parents' earlier separation; she was one of five survivors. This powerful and affecting novel demonstrates that there are as many truths to a story as there are people to tell it.