Jodi Picoult's Song For You
BY Advocate Contributors
March 09 2011 5:20 PM ET
Jodi Picoult’s newest novel, Sing You Home, is the first book club selection for the Trevor Project's TrevorSpace. Heart-wrenching and at times laugh-out-loud funny, Sing You Home follows the story of a lesbian couple and their struggles to start a family.
The book, which debuts at number 1 on the New York Times Best-Seller list this week, was also personal for the author. Her oldest son came out to her while she was writing Sing You Home.
Below, Lee Wind, who will be interviewing each of the authors taking part in TrevorSpace's book club, talks with Picoult about researching the novel, mentoring gay teens, and why she's fighting to change the world for her son.
Read more about TrevorSpace's book club before the interview.
The TrevorSpace book club kicks off here with this exclusive author interview. (And as the book just hit shelves officially March 1, I’ll try not to spoil any plot twists to give you all a chance to read it!)
Every day from today until March 22, there will be a new conversation thread started over at TrevorSpace, where we’ll talk in depth about Sing You Home. About the characters. About the songs on the accompanying CD. About what happens in the story — and your perspective on it all. And every one of those discussion days, one randomly chosen participant will win a signed copy of the book! You even have one more chance to win by commenting here today!
The finale will be a live Web chat March 22 hosted by Advocate.com, where I’ll moderate a Q&A between you and Jodi. It’s going to be amazing!
And now, let’s get to the kick-off interview ...
The Advocate: You’re donating part of the proceeds of each signed copy of the book sold at http://bit.ly/JodiTrevor to the Trevor Project. Can you share with us why you’re so passionate to help GLBTQ teens?
Jodi Picoult: I started writing Sing You Home because I think gay rights are really the last civil right we have yet to grant in the U.S., and I wanted to explore the issue and to see why those still opposed to gay rights are opposed. However, this became a much more personal quest for me when my oldest son came out to me during the writing of the book. Did I know beforehand? Sure. I could have told you he was gay when he was 3, and it didn't make any difference to me. I wouldn't love him any more if he wasn't gay; I don't love him any less because he is. Kyle is brilliant, a Yale sophomore who is an Egyptology major and who can read hieroglyphs (and about four other languages) and can do math that gives me an aneurysm; who competes in ballroom dance and runs a children’s theater and outreach drama program in the New Haven schools. His sexual orientation is the least interesting thing about him.
But I also know another young girl who is a member of a theater troupe I run for teens. She was suicidal because she is a lesbian and that's just not something her very conservative evangelical Christian family can handle. She worried about them finding out she had a girlfriend. She worried about being disowned so she couldn't go to college. She had to hide who she was every time she walked in her own door. Going home, for her, meant living a lie. Her parents gave her no support when she hinted at her sexuality, and in fact suggested she talk to a Christian counselor. This girl felt like she had no one to turn to, no adult who cared about her, until I started to mentor her. Unlike Kyle, coming out was not going to be a celebration.
Many teens who decide to come out have a disastrous experience, unlike my son. We've seen the media picking up on LGBTQ teens who have been bullied and who have turned to suicide. I want all LGBTQ teens to have an experience like my son had. It's hard enough being a teenager without having to hide who you really are. The Trevor Project is a safe haven for kids who need the support they're not getting from their families. What I dream of is a world where there's no need for the Trevor Project because no matter who you are, you're accepted.