Sunday, September 19, 2021

Quick Pick Book Review: Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult

Quick Pick Book Review: Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult
  • Opening lines: March 13, 2020
    When I was six years old, I painted a corner of the sky. My father was working as a conservator, one of a handful restoring the zodiac ceiling on the main hall of Grand Central Terminal—an aqua sky strung with shimmering constellations. It was late, way past my bedtime, but my father took me to work because my mother—as usual—was not home. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan—all of her books are fantastic, because she does extensive research beforehand. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • 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)

    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 Gal├ípagos—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 Gal├ípagos 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.

  • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoyed Picoult's previous books, or anyone who enjoys well-written books in general. 
  • Favorite paragraph: As we get closer, the mass of land differentiates into individual sensations: hot gusts of wind and hooting pelicans; a man climbing a coconut tree and tossing the nuts down to a boy; a marine iguana, blinking its yellow dinosaur eye. As we sidle up to the dock, I think that this could not be any more different from New York City. It feels tropical and timeless, lazy, remote. It feels like a place where no one has ever heard of a pandemic. 
  • Something to know: At first I was like, ugh, I don't want to read another book set in COVID times—we already have to live it, currently—but then the book ended up winning me over. Also, something MAJOR happens midway through the book that completely changes the course of the narrative. After that I was hooked and had to find out immediately how the book ends.
  • What I would have changed: Not sure I would have changed anything. Maybe the ending but it felt right to me. 
  • Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon—it will be out on November 30, 2021.

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