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.
This story starts out intriguing because it is so real to so many people. Covid-19 struck our country like a Tsunami. Those who were old enough to remember that day, 3/13/19 know exactly where they were when the announcement that the shut down of our country was the only news on any TV station. For me, I left my 5th grade classroom that day not knowing that I wouldn’t return to that room for the rest of the year. 2019 and 2020 continued to get worse and worse. Jodi Picoult’s book Wish You We’re Here told a delicate tale of how Covid-19 affected everyday people on a daily basis.
The characters in the story were easy to relate to and represented the struggles of so many. I read furiously through the first 1/3. After Diana arrived in the Galapagos Islands and the story seemed to have shifted to a story about “finding her meaning in life” and a “love story” as she learned to adapt to island ways, I began to feel disappointed. Something about this story and most definitely because I love Picoult, made me forge on.
Part 2 shook me from my trance because I did NOT see that coming! Wow! Just WOW! I am so happy I continued reading. The second half of the book was just incredible. As Picoult has proven time and time again, life isn’t always the way it seems and events don’t always end happily or tied with a near bow. Picoult’s books are real, raw, important, and they are the stories that people need to hear.
If you started this book and felt a bit of a lull in the first half, don’t give up. You won’t be disappointed.
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Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty five internationally bestselling novels, including MY SISTER’S KEEPER, HOUSE RULES and SMALL GREAT THINGS, and has also co-written two YA books with her daughter Samantha van Leer, BETWEEN THE LINES and OFF THE PAGE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.
Her most recent adult novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT first published in the UK on 30th October 2018, and was a #1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.