Book: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: 2021
Source: ebook borrowed from the library
Summary: It’s mid-March 2020 and New York City has nineteen cases of COVID. Diana, an art specialist working for Sotheby’s, meets with her client, Kitomi Ito (who, amusingly and unabashedly, shares a very similar biography to Yoko Ono). The sale of Ito’s famous Toulouse-Lautrec painting will propel the next step up the corporate ladder of Diana’s career, one that she has carefully planned.
Diana has carefully planned her private life, too, and it is also right on schedule. She and her boyfriend, Finn, are headed to the Galápagos Islands. Diana fully expects that they will return as an engaged couple.
Unfortunately, Finn is a doctor and New York City is about to need every doctor it can get and more. That’s how Finn ends up staying in New York City while Diana heads to the Galápagos, only to find herself trapped with no way back.
Thoughts: I haven’t joined in Sunday Salon for a while, but a book that I read compulsively last week, finishing in three days, felt like a fun thing to share. Especially since it deals with such recent history.
This is the second book that I’ve read set in the pandemic. The first was 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard, a thriller that took place in Dublin, Ireland. That book was more about experiencing lockdown in a city.
Given that one of the main characters in Wish You Were Here was a doctor, Picoult’s book has a lot more of the medical aspect. More, in fact, than I was fully aware of as it was happening — and I was paying a lot of attention. I appreciated learning more from that perspective.
For me, there is something healing about reading books set in the pandemic. That was unexpected and I don’t imagine that it applies to everyone.
Appeal: If the idea of reading a novel set during the pandemic intrigues you, rather than freaks you out, you’ll like this book. By the way, either of those emotions seems perfectly rational to me, so I personally want to validate you, no matter which camp you fall into.
I’ve only read one Picoult novel previously, Small Great Things. From what I heard, then, and I’m hearing now, Small Great Things is much more a typical Picoult novel than Wish You Were Here. So, if you’re a Picoult fan, you may want to consider whether you’re ready to read a novel set in the pandemic, more than that you normally read Picoult as soon as possible. On the other hand, the one thing that both of these books had in common was being compulsively readable — so if that’s the element that you’re looking for in a Picoult novel, give Wish You Were Here a shot.
Have you read this book? What did you think?