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The Book of Two Ways Review: Back-of-Book Description
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light comes a “powerful” (The Washington Post) novel about the choices that alter the course of our lives.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MARIE CLAIRE
Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.
Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.
But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.
After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.
As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?
I think I have read almost every single book Jodi Picoult has written and I have loved every one of them. So anytime she releases a new one, you know it’s only a matter of time before I get to it.
I was so excited for The Book of Two Ways that I bought it twice actually – once at the used book store, and then again later at the new book store because I forgot I already had it! (I exchanged the new one for something else and read the used copy, FYI.) I only noticed this error when I decided it would be the last book I read of 2021, but it’s a pretty sizeable book so it took me until after the first of January to finish it.
Anyway! The Book of Two Ways was really interesting and thought-provoking. It deals with questioning the decisions you make in your life and whether you can ever know if it was the right choice or not. I think that’s something we can all relate to. The author accomplishes this by using having the main character question her relationships, career path, and parenting choices throughout the story.
Speaking of career paths – the book deals heavily with Egyptology, with a lot of information about historical things and archeological jargon. I’ve read other reviews from people saying they thought those parts were a bit hard to get through and while the names of things are hard to decipher, I found the subject matter itself pretty interesting to read about.
The other career path mentioned was a death doula. Interestingly, I recently listened to a podcast that interviewed a doula and they talked about this side of that profession, so I had heard of it, but this was certainly the first time I’d seen one in a novel. So, I thought it was really unique to read about.
Overall, I found the characters really well written, all with their own sets of issues and goals. The conflicts felt relatable and real, too. The dialogue was good and flowed naturally. And the settings were terrific! It was really easy to picture the archeological dig sites as well as the “normal” settings in Boston.
I love Picoult’s writing and I always find a lot of lines that jump out at me – this one was no different.
Buy It Now!
Favorite Quotes From The Book of Two Ways
“This is marriage, I realize. A tuning fork of emotion.”
“I once read that every story is a love story. Love of a person, a country, a way of life. Which means, of course, that all tragedies are about losing what you love.”
“Imagine all the times you’ve told yourself, ‘Oh, it’s nothing.’ Well nothing can be pretty goddamned big.”
“If there is a garden of maybes, you are the invasive plant I can’t ever get rid of.”
“Ancient Egyptians believed that the first and most necessary ingredient in the universe was chaos. It could sweep you away, but it was also the place from which all things start anew.”
“He scrolled through it, his eyes lighting on the paragraphs I’d underlined. I always did that in books, when authors found ways to say things I never could.”
“Love isn’t a perfect match, but an imperfect one. You are rocks in a tumbler. At first you bump, you scrape, you snag. But each time that happens, you smooth each other’s edges until you wear each other down. And if you are lucky, at the end of all that, you fit.”
“I think people assume death is all or nothing. Someone is here, or they’re not. But that’s not what it’s like, is it? The echo of you is still here – in your children or grandchildren; in the art you made while living; in the memories other people have of you.”
“When you lose someone you love, there is a tear in the fabric of the universe. It’s the scar you feel for, the flaw you can’t stop seeing. It’s the tender place that won’t bear weight. It’s a void.”
The Book of Two Ways Review: In Conclusion
I loved this book! I love all Jodi Picoult’s books – she just has such a way with words. The Book of Two Ways gets 4.5 stars from me. The only drawback was that I didn’t love the way it ended. It was just a little ambiguous for my taste. But the story was still really wonderful and I would like to see it as a movie. (I feel like I say that about every book I like!)
I would recommend this to all Picoult fans, as well as anyone who is interested in Egypt, the concept of death doulas, romance, and just really good family dramas. It would provide a lot of discussion for book clubs, too.