Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wish You Were Here

  Wish You Were Here
Author:  Jodi Picoult
Publication Information:  Ballantine Books. 2021. 336 pages.
ISBN:  1984818414 / 978-1984818416

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "When I was six years old, I  painted a corner of the sky."

Favorite Quote:  "The Japanese believe that it takes three generations to forget. Those who experience a trauma pass it along to their children and their grandchildren, and then the memory fades. To the survivors of a tragedy, that's unthinkable - what's the point of living through something terrible if you cannot convey the lessons you've learned? Since nothing will ever replace all you've lost, the only way to make meaning is to make sure no one else goes through what you did. Memories are the safeguards we use to keep from making the same mistakes."

I finish many of Jodi Picoult's books and think I did not see that coming. They leave me thinking and reflecting long after I finish. This book is no exception. This book does what most Jodi Picoult books do. They take on big issues. Small Great Things took on race, prejudice and the justice system. Leaving Time centered on grief. The Storyteller left me thinking about forgiveness.

This is also the first book I have read that is fiction around the COVID pandemic. I love historical fiction, but this is so immediate that it is challenging to think of it as history! I leaves me wondering. We read history. We study history. We are and will be history. Do people living through a period of time think about the fact that the period will be a significant history. Naive as it may sound, it seems odd to think of our reality as history. Yet, it is, and here we are.

That being said, this book does not end up where I think it's going to. The premise is seemingly simply. Diana and her boyfriend Finn have a trip planned to the Galapagos Islands. Perhaps, a proposal is to come to take their relationship to the next step. Finn is a medical professional. It is the very start of the virus. He cannot leave. Diana goes anyways as the trip is not refundable. Once there, the world shuts down, and she is stranded. She is forced to disconnect from the world she knows and establishes new connections.

Diana's perspective is that of those isolated and how they coped with that isolation. The book highlights that in that isolation lay self-discovery for many. We realigned priorities. Relationship altered. The sense of loss permeated.

Finn brings in the plight of the first responders and the front line healthcare workers at the forefront of this pandemic. Perhaps no one from outside of the medical profession can understand that stress or the devastation.

Part of the plight is the political response and the divided way in which this pandemic was approached. To mask or not to mask and to vaccinate or not to vaccinate became political rather than scientific conversations. The book has a clear viewpoint on this.

Where the book goes brings in all we still don't know and all the uncertainty about what can be. At times, it seems farfetched. Yet, so many real stories of COVID depicts things that seems hard to believe. Is this possible? I don't know, but then again, science is still working on discovering what may be possible.

At times, this book was hard because the events are so recent and part of my own personal history. Yet, at the same time, it is amazing to see the experience articulated. As I turn the last page, I want more to see how it turns out.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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