Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
Book Description: From the #1 New York Times bestselling 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 Malibu Rising)
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.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review: Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors and I was extremely excited to get my hands on an early copy of her newest book. This book set in the time of Covid-19 and is highly thought out with a lot of science but has a strong story of woman trying to navigate her world, trying to get promoted in her role and finally get engaged to the man she loves when this pandemic hits.
When the book opens, Diana is at work, trying to save a deal on a famous painting, as the owner is changing her mind as the pandemic is just about to hit. She is headed to the Galápagos Islands with Finn who she suspects is going to propose. When Finn comes home that evening, he says he will need to cancel this trip due to what is coming to NY City, but suggests she goes. It will be safer for her out of the city, and this should be over by the time she is set to return.
Reluctantly she leaves and as soon as she gets there, the island shuts down and she cannot leave, has no hotel and her luggage was lost. A woman who works at the hotel, offers her a room in her apartment to stay until she figure out next steps. She comes across a man, and they have a very precarious start to their relationship. As the weeks move on, she becomes friend with this man, and his daughter. The only problem there is no wi-fi and cell service and has trouble reaching Finn and has no idea what is happening on the other side of the world.
I will stop there, because the second half of this book takes a 180, that you should read for yourself. But I can tell you this turn of events is shocking, and turned this book around for me. My first impression was, this is not much of a story, but the twist almost made this 5 stars for me. I loved watching Diana grow and navigate this turn of events, realizing that the life she always imagined she would have, might not be what she was meant for.
As always, Picoult’s writing is gorgeous and she takes great care of writing her characters. If you are already a fan of hers this will not disappoint. For new readers looking for early pandemic stories, this one just might scratch that itch.
Thank you NetGalley and Random House for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.