Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Title: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and The Book of Two Ways comes “a powerfully evocative story of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Malibu Rising)

Rights sold to Netflix for adaptation as a feature film

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.


Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult is a poignant novel that takes place during the early months of the Covid pandemic.

Diana O’Toole and her boyfriend, surgical resident Finn Colson have a perfect vision of how their lives are going to go. They are about to embark on a trip to the Galápagos where Diana is sure he is going to pop THE question. Instead, COVID strikes and Finn’s vacation is canceled as New York is hit hard by the new virus. At his insistence, Diana goes on the trip where nothing goes as planned as travel is halted, everything shuts down and she remains stuck on the island. Thankfully, she is offered a place to stay and Diana befriends the kindhearted woman’s great granddaughter, Beatriz. As the days stretch into weeks, she also becomes friend with Beatriz’s father, Gabriel Fernandez.  While on the island, Diana begins to questions some aspects of her life.

Without a reliable cell signal, Diana finds it difficult to remain in touch with Finn. His emails come through sporadically and he details the horrific toll COVID is taking on New Yorkers. He also reveals, in heartbreaking detail, how helpless he feels when patient after patient succumbs to the virus. In contrast, Diana’s days are spent exploring the natural wonders and beauty of Galápagos.

Wish You Were Here is a beautifully rendered novel that will resonate with readers. The vivid and realistical portrayals of the early days of COVID are especially heartbreaking given how many people lost their lives. Diana undergoes an unexpected transformation as her perspective is reshaped by her experiences.  As a doctor on the frontlines, Finn’s accounts of the care and subsequent deaths of patients is heartrending.  The beauty of Galápagos springs vibrantly to life and paints a stark contrast to ravages of COVID around the world. With an absolutely jaw-dropping plot twist, Jodi Picoult brings this incredible novel to an unpredictable yet satisfying conclusion.

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