Book Review

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here

  • Author: Jodi Picoult
  • Genre: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: November 30, 2021
  • Publisher: Random House Audio

Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: blood, self-harm, death of a parent

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by 30, done having kids by 35, 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 30th 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.

I’ve heard a lot about Jodi Picot novels, but I haven’t read one … until now. And I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work after this. I was a bit reluctant to read a book centered around COVID while we are still dealing with it, but my curiosity got the better of me.

And I was quickly drawn into the story. The characters are so well-crafted, that they felt real right off the bat. I liked Diana, even though she’s got flaws that become more apparent the longer we are in her head. She’s a bit entitled, and comes off as one of those somewhat annoying tourists as she wanders aimlessly around the island that she’s stranded on. It’s a ballsy move on Diana’s part, and facing an imminent lockdown, I don’t know that I would have chosen to venture onto an island where I don’t speak the language and have no accommodations. But, that’s exactly what she does and I was definitely along for the ride. Despite her flaws, I found Diana to be a very sympathetic character. She’s stuck on this fairly isolated island, and has a lot of time to be introspective and deal with her own issues. 

The story is fairly slow-moving for a large portion of it, but it really allows us to get to see Diana’s journey of self-discovery. Then, we’re hit with a huge plot twist, and it honestly sucks that I can’t talk about it, because that was the part that I liked the most. So much of the meat of the story happens after the twist, and since I don’t want to give it away, I’m hampered in what I can discuss here. But trust me when I say that it’s the perfect way to wrap this story up. 

I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, but as it turns out, I loved it so much. While I was expecting this to be a typical romance, this was anything but — it was more of a women’s fiction novel than a romance, and although COVID played a big role in the story, it was more about how it affected us, not just physically, but mentally and as a society, and even provided some hope for the future. 

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