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Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult

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This must be the most touching story I’ve ever read. The story is about escaping, turning back and accepting true love. We are bound to traverse many crossroads as we grow, and as we become older, we are forced to make choices. However, it’s not that easy, even a very tiny choice can make a huge difference and, therefore, we can become trapped. Perhaps our results of our choices cannot be predicted. The novel Songs of the Humpback Whale explores our choices and the consequences of them.


The book, written by Jodi Picoult, was published in 1990, and sold many copies. The plot revolves round Oceanographer Oliver, who had once been his wife’s sanctuary from a childhood abuse, but became so addicted to humpback whales that he put his family second to his successful career. Unfortunately, he failed to perceive the loneliness in his wife’s heart. After a quarrel, his wife, Jane, decided to leave, and their daughter, Rebecca, was determined to be with her. Thus, they drove across the continent to a new sanctuary, a New England apple orchard where Jane’s brother worked. Consequently, the apple orchard turned out to be a paradise for Jane and her daughter. It was there that Jane got to know the charming and unsophisticated farmer Sam and unexpectedly fell in love. At the same time, Rebecca and Hadley, work assistants in the apple orchard, were also devoted to each other. Soon, Oliver tracked to the apple orchard and tried to take them home. And, Jane finally changed her mind and in order to bring the family back together, Rebecca agreed to leave the orchard. However, a twist of fate occurred at just about farewell time. This is when Hadley was soaked in sadness and fell off the precipice. Sadly, that’s how the story ends. At Hadley’s funeral, Rebecca felt that all the things that happened seemed to be a dream. She was too numb to feel that pain at the moment, and there were no tears, no feelings, and no words.

The character that impressed me most was Rebecca. The family atmosphere was not so harmonious for her, she tried to endure, to forgive her parents, but she also rebelled in her own ways. She was frank and honest with herself and others, and instead of stepping away from the bad blood between her parents, she firmly chose her mother’s side and escaped with her. Also, while her mother disagreed with her relationship with Hadley, she dared to love recklessly. I felt great courage in her, which is a rare characteristic in teenagers.


That brings me to the thinking about the way our society treats the feelings inside children. There is no doubt that parents maintain an unselfish love for their children, they manage to provide the best environment for their children and assure they have a promising future. But what about children’s feelings? They are often ignored. For example, a seven-year-old boy may be sad about losing his favorite dog and cry over the dog’s death all day. But parents often think that “he just wants another pet, so let’s buy him one”, they sometimes fail to realize how the dead dog matters to their son as his best friend. Traditional family notions are sometimes already instilled, and perhaps people no longer regard children as periphery to their parents. However, many people still don’t attach enough importance to children’s emotional psychology. In fact, scientific experiments have proved that the feelings of sorrow or loneliness can have a long-lasting effect on children.


Furthermore, relatively speaking, Rebecca’s love story isn’t the main plot of the book. But still, Rebecca’s spirits of bravery and independence really encourage me. Parents will not always be here to help us make choices, and we don’t always make the right decisions. But, needless to say, there are so many decisions we cannot easily judge them as right or wrong. Sometimes we need to listen to our hearts and live our own lives, just as Rebecca did. I sometimes wonder if, after so many years, Rebecca will wish these events did not happen at all. No escape, no encounters and no death. I bet she won’t. No one can control fate, but at least she had been in love once.






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