Review of Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Happy 2022 Friends! One of my New Years resolutions was to read and write more so I’m going to try my hardest to resurrect this little passion project of mine that I keep coming back to. I had a lot of time to read and write reviews while I was stuck in quarantine with Covid this past Christmas & New Years so I figured I’d get back to blogging. My goal is to post once a week (but go easy on me if things get a little crazy with school & work). Anyways, hope you enjoy my thoughts on this book & happy reading!

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Wish You Were Here is narrated by Diana O’Toole who is “right on schedule” with her life plan. She has a great job at Sotheby’s, living with her boyfriend Finn who is a surgical resident, and she is about to go on one-in a life-time getaway to the Galapagos where, judging by the little blue box in his underwear drawer, Finn is about to propose to her. Then, the pandemic hits and everything changes. While Finn is required to work obscene hours fighting on the frontlines against COVID, Diana takes his suggestion and goes to the Galapagos on her own. 

Much to my surprise, I found this book to be frustrating. As a nurse still working on the front lines of this seemingly never-ending pandemic, the book was somewhat triggering for me. While I appreciated the research that went in to what front line workers were going through in March of 2020 as we desperately tried to figure out how to save people from this virus, it felt way too soon to fictionalize and memorialize. The language was very far-fetched at times. I have been a nurse for a few years now and never felt the need to use words like “cytokine storm” to my significant other which made the emails from Finn off-putting to me. While I recognized Picoult’s attempts to use much needed science to convey to the reader how dire the situation was, when the lay person can’t understand the language, it’s not as successful. 

Without giving away any spoilers, I appreciated the themes that resonated throughout the book about making the most of a second chance and living your most authentic life possible but overall, I felt like the wounds of the pandemic were just to raw to read a book about it. I was also frustrated by the way Finn’s character developed. I felt like he was characterized as being so rigid and not being able to deviate from the plan that him and Diana had dreamt of for themselves, yet I think the fact of the matter is that he was surrounded by uncertainty and death every day, he just wanted something concrete and worthwhile to cling to. 

Jodi Picoult’s work always will have a special place in my heart but this one missed the mark for me. I was disappointed by the lack of multiple perspectives which she so eloquently does in her works which create a unique level of depth. This in combination with the overall theme of the plot made it challenging for me to get through.

3 out of 5 stars

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