Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

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 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.


Set during Covid, Diana, an art specialist for Sotheby's lives with her finance Finn, who is a surgical resident in a New York hospital. Due to the hospital gaining more Covid cases, Finn has to back out of his and Diana's dream vacation to the Galapagos, but urges her to go and enjoy as they can not get a refund, she will only be gone for two weeks and then they will be back together.

When Diana arrives on the Island, there is a boat there taking vacationers off to the airport and she decides not to turn around and get on it, she will be able to leave in two weeks, but instead, she gets stuck on the island when it shuts down due to Covid.

I think Jodi Picoult wrote an excellent book with Wish You Were Here. It may be because we are barely out of the shutdowns and hardships of the virus but this book felt real, and at times was a hard read. It put you right back into the nightmare that is Covid. All the shutdowns, not being able to see the ones you love, the deaths, and the grueling work that the frontline medical workers had to go through.

Yet while the book is filled with the horrors of Covid, you also get a breather with the beauty that Diana is witnessing in the Galapagos. You get a beautiful look at the people of the island and their traditions.

Picoult has given us characters that are human, they have flaws and feelings, but they are also strong and resilient. Her writing is skillful and emotional and keeps you invested in the story. 

It is easy to see why Picoult is one of the best writers there is, and I think she has outdone herself with Wish You Were Here.

Oh yes, be sure to keep a box of tissue handy, you will need it!

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