Category Archives: Jodi Picoult

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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Filed under Ballantine Books, Contemporary, Jodi Picoult, Rated B+, Review, Wish You Were Here, Women's Fiction

Review: The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Title: The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 432 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 A Spark of Light comes a riveting novel about the choices that alter the course of our lives.

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?


The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult is an introspective novel about love and loss.

A troubled point in her fifteen year marriage to Brian and their moody fourteen year old daughter Meret leave Dawn Edelstein looking back at the choices she has made. In her past, Dawn was on her path to completing her dissertation in Egyptology.  While working on an archaeological project in Egypt, she and fellow student Wyatt Armstrong are embroiled in a hot and heavy romance. But an unexpected emergency brings her home and due to circumstances out of her control, her life and career take a very different direction. Back in the present, she is now a death doula and while caring for her latest client, Win, Dawn cannot help but wonder if she made the wrong choice fifteen years ago.  With Brian believing in parallel universes, Dawn’s life plays out in two different trajectories and eventually intersect in the present.

Dawn is fully immersed in working towards her degree and she loves everything about the project in Egypt. She and Wyatt clash right from their first meeting and her opinion of him is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum.  Dawn’s view of the Egyptian past is different than  Wyatt’s and while they manage to work together, there is always an underlying tension between them.  Their work at the archaeological site requires patience due to the nature of the work and the harsh conditions.  During a festive occasion, Dawn and Wyatt finally let their guard down which results in a very passionate love affair.

In the present, Dawn and Brian are happy until an incident that leaves her wondering if there is a future for them.  Meret is struggling with body issues and Dawn stumbles over trying to help her deal with her emotions. She is also very busy with Win, who is a wonderful woman whom Dawn identifies with a little more than she should. But as Win nears the end of her life, her one big regret results in Dawn pondering a long ago decision that still haunts her.

The Book of Two Ways  is a reflective novel with captivating relationship issues. The overall story is interesting with incredibly well-researched subject matter. While the part of the storyline that deals with the various relationships is riveting, the story gets bogged down in an overload of Egyptian and quantum physics information.  Despite the extraneous amount of dry subject matter, the characters are vibrantly developed and very appealing.  With a bit of unanticipated drama, Jodi Picoult brings the novel to an abrupt, somewhat frustrating conclusion.

All in all, an enjoyable and educational novel that is sometimes a bit tedious but well worth reading.

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Filed under Ballantine Books, Contemporary, Jodi Picoult, Rated B, Review, The Book of Two Ways, Women's Fiction

Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Title: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Conemprary, Literary Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things returns with a powerful and provocative new novel about ordinary lives that intersect during a heart-stopping crisis.

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order to save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester, disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.

Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.

Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding.


A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult is a fast-paced, thought-provoking novel which features a topical storyline.

Detective Lieutenant Hugh McElroy is a veteran hostage negotiator who is in the midst of a harrowing negotiation with a  gunman holding hostages at a local woman’s health center which also performs abortions. George Goddard burst into the Center hours earlier and after killing and wounding several of the people inside, the situation remains tense as Hugh attempts to convince him to free the hostages. The first victim Goddard releases is Hugh’s older sister, Bex, who is seriously wounded. The remaining hostages include Hugh’s fifteen year old daughter Wren, Dr. Louie Ward who is also gravely wounded, anti-abortion protestor Janine Deuerre, nurse Izzy Walsh, client Joy Perry and patient Olive Lemay.

With the narrative moving back in time, the chapters provide compelling insight to each of the hostages as they undergo this horrifying ordeal.  Dr. Ward is a gentle man who feels called to provide this service although he is deeply religious. Wren is wracked with guilt for keeping the appointment from Hugh.  Janine remains true to her pro-life stance but she is somewhat taken aback by what she learns during her time at the Center. Izzy goes into professional mode as she treats the wounded and calms the hostages. Despite never having children, Olive is extremely protective of Wren.  Joy knows she made the right choice for herself but she also harbors regret for what might have been. Bex is contemplative as she reflects back on her life as she lies wounded. Goddard’s motive for his actions at the Clinic are gradually revealed over the course of the novel.

With the novel set in Mississippi, there are restrictive abortion laws which are somewhat unfairly slanted to protect the developing fetus. This unfortunate circumstance is spotlighted in  a parallel story arc in which a teenager finds herself in unexpected legal trouble after she is rushed to the hospital for emergency care. Despite her age, the Assistant District Attorney intends to prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law and he plans to use the case to further his political career.

A Spark of Light by is a powerful novel that presents both sides of an extremely controversial, emotional and politically charged topic. Jodi Picoult’s extensive research adds incredible depth to the plot but some of the subject matter is described in graphic detail. Both sides of the abortion issue are presented and while personal opinions might not be changed, hopefully readers will glean a greater understanding of opposing viewpoints. I highly recommend this outstanding novel to readers of the genre.

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Filed under A Spark of Light, Ballantine Books, Contemporary, Jodi Picoult, Literary Fiction, Rated B+, Review