Jodi Picoult, my favorite ever author. There hasn’t been a book of hers I haven’t loved – and that’s not going to change here.
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 Galapagos—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 Galapagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of 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.
When I hear that a new Jodi Picoult book is out, I don’t think, I just buy it. Whatever it’s about, I know I’ll love it. However, I was taken aback to see that Wish You Were Here was set so much in the Covid pandemic. Was I ready to relive something so very fresh?
The subject is dealt with in a sensitive way. I know there has been a wave of books coming out that are set during the pandemic but this doesn’t feel like cashing in. It delicately handles the situation and is filled with the usual deep emotion of Picoult’s books. It was this emotion that meant I had to take more frequent pauses when reading so my head and heart could digest everything. However, on the flip side, the book also offers much beauty and hope and shows us just how resilient the human race can be.
I can’t write this review if I’m not going to be 100% truthful. While I loved Wish You Were Here, I felt it was missing one crucial Picoult element: a moral dilemma. Yes, as Diana ponders her life too could argue that there are some dilemmas there, yet none are as deep as the authors previous books. However, Picoult doesn’t disappoint by educating the reader on a new and interesting topic. I’m afraid I can’t say without giving away the plot. You will just have to read the book to find out.
Wish You Were Here can be purchased here.