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Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Title: Wish You Were Here
Author: Jodi Picoult
Year published: 2021
Category: Adult fiction 
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 4 to 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (NY) and Ecuador

SummaryDiana 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 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. 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 Galápagos 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.

Review: I haven't read a Jodi Picoult novel in a number of year so I was looking forward to this one and I wasn't disappointed.

Diana's time in the Galapagos was fairly wonderful given that it was happening at the start of the pandemic. If you have to be isolated somewhere, it's not a bad place to be. She seems to figure out some things about herself, her relationship with her boyfriend Finn, her career choices, and more.

The contrast with Finn's emails describing life working as a doctor in a New York City hospital as COVID cases and deaths rise is stark. The descriptions of patients who are suffering, intubated, and dying and the empty city brought back strong memories of the beginning of this pandemic (remember wiping down your mail?!) that were difficult to read about, but powerful.

There is a moment about two thirds through this novel that made me jump up off the couch. I can't say more because it will give too much away, but it's wild. And the Afterword is really interesting as Picoult describes the extensive research she did for this novel.

Challenges for which this counts:  
  • Alphabet (Title)--W
  • Literary Escapes--Ecuador
  • Pop Sugar--Parallel realities

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