If there has been a highlight of my book reviewer life so far it has been getting an advanced copy of this next book. I’ve made it!
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
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 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, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.
But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she 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 the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to 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 beside 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?
I won’t deny that I’m an absolute Jodi Picoult fan girl. Yet I went into The Book of Two Ways with some skepticism considering Small Great Things left me disappointed. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here.
There is always a moral dilemma in Picoult’s books, and while the same is true in The Book of Two Ways, it’s toned down a bit. The dilemma Dawn has is about love and following your heart. A much softer theme, yes, but Picoult fans will still love it.
For me, this was not really a book about love but a book about death. Due to the vast amount of information on Egypt and physics, we learn a lot about a subject many of us are reluctant to discuss: the fact that’s we can’t avoid death, how to deal with death, what people have done overtime to prepare for death, where we go afterward, our own personal beliefs around death. Believe me, the book is not as morbid as I have made it sound just there. The thought of death triggers anxiety attacks in me and I was nervous that this would happen while reading. However, the topic is death with so well, opening up discussion and dealing with the issue in a frank manner, that I got through and can have some new thoughts on the process of death.
I really thought that this review would be just me discussing how great the Egypt scenes were and how I learned even more about the period. While this certainly was the case, I just can’t get the topic of death out of my head. Death doulas. Have you ever heard of them? Basically, it is a person who assists in the dying process, much like a midwife or doula does with the birthing process. Fascinating. We lost someone special this year and while there wasn’t a death doula there, the people who provided the medical palliative were priceless. Death doulas are much the same and I hope more people become aware of them.
On a more broad level, I loved the characters and was hooked on the storyline. Another great book from Jodi Picout for me. 10/10!
The Book of Two Ways is available to buy now.