Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Reviewed by Lotte

It’s no secret that I am a massive Jodi Picoult fan, I love her books and it just so happens we share the same birthday. Some might say I’m biased but I’d challenge anyone to tell me this book didn’t impact them in some way. For me Jodi produced another knock out novel that will stay with me for some time.

We meet Diane, someone who has her life on track – or so she thinks – a job she loves, a partner she also loves, she has plans for the future and a clear idea of where she’s heading. And then the pandemic hits and everything changed. She became stranded in the Galapagos whilst her partner Finn is stuck in New York working as a doctor on the front lines in a major New York hospital. To top it off they’re cut off from each other, receiving sporadic emails and sending postcards. These opposing worlds summed up the divide we were all facing in some way, with some people fighting on the front lines and the rest of us looking in helplessly. Diane goes through the same grief we all did, losing special events we were looking forward to, being unable to fulfil plans and being left feeling bereft and pretty lost. Her experiences on the island, the people she meets, the isolation from loved ones, the heartbreak and the hope she feels, all guide her through figuring out what she’s going to do next and more importantly who she is now. All while being quarantined on an island where she doesn’t know the language and is relying of the kindness of strangers. This beautifully mirrored the experience of so many of us: we were all lost in an unknown world.

As usual Jodi throws in so many twists and turns. There’s multi-layered characters and plot lines twisted perfectly together. As always Jodi has researched this novel extensively and that’s seen in the level of detail she includes (which is pretty miraculous given we were all in lockdown!). This novel is told through the lens of Diane, punctuated by emails from Finn that just heightened the fractious nature of their situation and how extreme this pandemic had become. The emails were perfectly times, along with the character development to create suspense and a sense tapestry of a novel. There was always something happening, or another emotion playing out, always something that kept me wanting to read more and more.

The pandemic shattered our sense of who we were, leaving us lost in the abyss while chaos raged in the outside world. We lost who we were, our plans, our goals, our direction. It left us questioning what we wanted for ourselves and from the world around us. It left us questioning what mattered. And it took many us a long time to find our way back – which wasn’t always to the place we started at. This pandemic has irrevocably changed many of our lives and Jodi depicts this perfectly in this story. I’ve heard many people say this is the book we didn’t know we needed, and I can honestly say it was. It was validating, eye opening, reassuring, it helped me make sense of the last couple of years and I felt heard as a result of Jodi’s masterful, powerful writing. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this ARC (apologies for the delay in sharing, ill-health happened).

Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 25th November 2021

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