Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult, 5 Stars

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.

Advanced Praise for Wish You Were Here:

“Jodi Picoult once again proves she is the master of wading through the darkness to find the light.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Malibu Rising

Wish You Were Here is a transporting and transcendent novel about seeking out glimmers of light in the darkness, and following them wherever they lead. Jodi Picoult is that rare, one-in-a-million writer whose books both squeeze your heart and expand your mind. Her latest is wise, surprising, and utterly extraordinary.”⁠—Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read

“In Wish You Were Here, Jodi Picoult does something brilliant, cracking open something extraordinary. I am just overwhelmed by this book. I actually finished it at three in the morning and started reading it again.”⁠—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You

My Review:

None of us saw the pandemic coming. Even though it was headed towards us with the force of a freight train. But thinking back on how life was upended suddenly over the course of days, it’s fascinating to think of what could have been if we’d made different decisions that week. Wish You Were Here examines such a scenario. There were plenty of people that still got on planes even as we hurtled towards lockdowns, we just didn’t know any better.

Diana is type A. She’s responsible, she plans everything out, and she has found her Mr. Right. Sure, they aren’t married yet, but they will be in good time. It’s all part of the plan. They’ll have successful careers, 2.5 children, a dog, and everything will be just perfect. Every move in her life has been calculated. Right up until she gets on a plane as the pandemic hits NYC, and finds herself stranded in paradise.

Stuck in a tourist town that’s completely shut down, she struggles to communicate with those around her and doesn’t even know how she will survive two weeks of lockdown. A maid from the hotel she was going to stay at takes pity on her and brings her home. She finds herself right in the middle of their family drama and surprisingly, she forms tight bonds with the maid’s family.

It’s strange to me that we’ve been in this pandemic long enough that books are now coming out that take place during the lockdown period, which still feels so surreal to most of us. And yet here we are. And while some may say it’s too soon, Jodi Picoult was the writer to do it. Writing about an event that is so recent can feel a bit hokey. Just look at last season’s TV lineup if you need evidence. But Wish You Were Here was written so masterfully that it didn’t feel one bit hokey. It was an incredible story from one of America’s most incredible authors.

I wholeheartedly recommend Wish You Were Here to just about anyone who likes a good novel. It’s a masterful story that examine what happens when our lives go off track. This one is out November 30. Get your copy!


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