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Wish You Were Here Review: Back-of-Book Description
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and The Book of Two Ways comes “a powerfully evocative story of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six)
Rights sold to Netflix for adaptation as a feature film • Named one of the best books of the year by She Reads
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 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.
My Thoughts on Wish You Were Here
I believe I’ve covered this in at least one of my previous JodI Picoult book reviews, but I’ll say it again: I am a huge fan of her writing and I love all of her books. I really appreciate the amount of research she does to include so many details about things. For example, in The Book of Two Ways, she must have spent months learning about Egypt.
And in this book, she must have spent a lot of time learning about the Galapagos as well as interviewing hospital workers that worked through Covid. Her detail and information are impeccable in every book. And she holds that standard in Wish You Were Here.
I knew she would, which is why I planned to read this book eventually. I think I might have waited until it was on paperback or something, but then a Facebook ‘book club’ group I’m in decided to read it in March, so I purchased a copy and dove in.
As mentioned a moment ago – it does involve the Covid (the initial March 2020 phase) and some people in the healthcare industry during that time. It also depicts the fear and uncertainty of the shutdown, being isolated, and the interesting and sometimes difficult relationship between a child and a parent. There’s also some art thrown in, as well as difficult life choices.
I can’t give too much away because there is a really interesting and shocking (at least to me and my FB book club) twist about halfway through the book! I mean, I expect twists at the end of books, but this time it was smack in the middle. It was a huge surprise to me… I was questioning it for a while, but I think it’s perfect and so I don’t want to spoil it at all.
What I can say, though, is that the characters were all really great. Their background and daily struggles – plus their struggles during a worldwide pandemic – were all very real and relatable. The dialogue, including inner monologues, was utter perfection.
And the settings! Holy guacamole. I have never been to the Galapagos Islands but I felt like she painted such a wonderful picture of it that I kind of want to go now. Even the parts that took place in the city or the hospitals – it was easy to picture and played out like a movie in my head.
Jodi Picoult’s books always involve at least one type of controversial subject alongside a complicated relationship. Wish You Were Here does indeed have a complicated relationship between the main character and her mother, plus it has two hot controversial/touchy subjects: covid and one other thing.
Her books always involve at least one controversial subject alongside a complicated relationship. Wish You Were Here does indeed have a complicated relationship, plus it has two hot controversial/touchy subjects. Click To Tweet
I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to mention it – and in fact, maybe a little warning would be good: there is a character who struggles with self-harm, or in other words, cutting. Personally, I don’t have any experience with this either myself or even with friends who do (that I know of), but I know that it happens and that it’s probably not talked about enough. I think the author does a really good job of addressing it in a respectful, considerate way.
And the same with Covid. She kind of just depicts what was going on in the world back then, and at the very end, when the story is over, there is an author’s note about what it was like for her. I liked that.
I liked everything about it! It was terrific. And there were plenty of good, stand-out quotes.
Favorite Quotes from Wish You Were Here
“I don’t know why it hurts so much when my mother forgets me these days, though, when she never actually knew me at all.”
“If someone abandons you, it might be less about you and more about them.”
“In the grand scheme of things, losing dollars is nothing compared to losing time.”
“Busy is just a euphemism for being so focused on what you don’t have that you never notice what you do. It’s a defense mechanism. Because if you stop hustling – if you pause – you start wondering why you ever thought you wanted all those things.”
“It’s hard to blame someone for breaking the law when all your choices have been taken away from you. Nobody’s all good or all bad. They just get painted that way.”
(Regarding a sunrise) “It is the kind of art that no master could ever capture on canvas, but it’s here for the viewing every single day.”
“Trying to figure out what happened to me isn’t important. It’s what I do with what I’ve learned that counts.”
Wish You Were Here Review: In Conclusion
Amazing. Beautiful. Loved every second of it. 5 stars.
Someone told me that Netflix is planning to adapt this to film. I’m really curious how they are going to do that. I have been super disappointed by the *shows* people make from the books I’ve been reading, but maybe a movie will be better? I will definitely find out!
In any case – read this book. You will not be disappointed. Fans of all her work will like it and new readers of Jodi Picoult will like it, too. We all went through 2020… there are sure to be things you can relate to in this. Plus, we all have parents, some of us with difficult relationships with them. So you can probably relate to that aspect, as well. Give it a shot. If you do – come back and tell me what you think in the comments!
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