Monday, December 13, 2021

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here
Jodi Picoult
Published November 30, 2021 by Ballantine Books

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a deeply moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit in a moment of crisis.

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 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. 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.

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.

5 Stars

I never intended to read a novel set during the pandemic or with plot points related to the pandemic, but something about Wish You Were Here called to me. I just had to read it. The cover is gorgeous, the blurb captures the story's main plot perfectly, and well, it's Jodi Picoult, we all know she knows how to write. What really grabbed my attention though, was the idea of examining where life is at and how Picoult just felt she had to write this. Diana felt like someone I needed to know, her journey felt like something I needed to go on, so off I went and boy am I grateful I picked this up.

The pandemic marks a shift in everyone's life, whether it's an emotional shift, a career shift, or one of just general life examination. Diana thought she'd been through the worst, but the pandemic and her adventure to the Galapagos Islands makes her realize that the worst is yet to come and that only she owns her fate. I related to Diana so much; it's so easy to think that life is mapped out and that we're on the path to whatever we deem is the best thing for us, but it's not always really right. What we planned at twenty or felt pre-destined for may be due to outside influence or just are no longer right for you as you and your world change. Her examinations into her relationships, her family, her past, and her future felt just like the times I have gone through those same self examinations and I loved the reality of this novel. It may be a fiction, but Diana felt real and her journey to discover her true life path is just beautiful and epic.

Wish You Were Here is a gorgeous tale, one filled with sparkling water, a handsome tour guide, and a young girl that allows Diana to see just what really matters in her life. Of course, it isn't all beautiful and fun, the pandemic is jarring; Picoult captured those first few weeks of uncertainty so perfectly that I felt that same anxiety again as I realized doors really were closing around us. The pain of loss and of the unknown are explored so well in this novel, I could feel the isolation that Diana felt and my eyes dripped with tears when hers did. Even with the most difficult topics being covered, Wish You Were Here is the book that I'm so thankful I read to revisit the turmoil of 2020.

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