Wish You Were Here
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: November 30, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 9-16, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars
A deeply moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit in a moment of crisis.
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 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. 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.
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.
I have read some novels that deal with Covid, but Wish You Were Here brings it to a whole different level with the intensity and reality that we still face with this disease two years later. I had heard that Wish dealt with Covid, but I was not prepared for this level of it! I did enjoy the novel but it is just to real too soon, especially since we are not out of the woods with this disease yet.
We have Diana and Finn. Diana works in the art auction world and Finn is a surgical resident. Diana is working with a Yoko Ono type woman whose partner was killed many years ago like John Lennon was. There is a famous painting that she is debating on selling at auction just before Covid reaches New York City where part of the novel is based.
Finn and Diana have planned a holiday to the Galapagos Islands. But then Covid happens and Finn has to stay working at the hospital. Together they decide she should still go and does. And OMG, my feelings about this! They know what’s coming but still decide for Diana to go? When she lands on the island it is starting to shut down and yet she decides to still stay! I wanted to just strangle her: who would go overseas when things are starting to go crazy in the world!?!? And things go crazy for Diana: no luggage, her hotel is closed, its just a worst-case scenario for her, and she is stuck half a world away from home until who knows when! And there is not really Wi-Fi- so she can’t really communicate with Finn. But Diana is taken in by some locals and she comes to learn about and see the island not from the tourist side, but from the native side.
And then we have a side story of Diana’s mother and dementia. This brings a whole other level to Covid for Diana.
Yes, I had issues with Diana and her decisions she makes. And then Picoult takes the novel in a direction I did not expect or would have thought possible! It was a shocking moment.
Picoult definitely did her research and brings the reader into Finn’s world of working in the hospital in the height of the pandemic. It was just too much reality in a fictional novel for me. I enjoyed the novel, but for me it is too soon.
I am conflicted with this one. I feel it should have 5 stars, but it had too much real-life intensity when reading is for pleasure, so it was too much for me. It is an extremely powerful novel that makes you think about what we are still going through, and not sure when we may get ‘back to normal’ or if we have to adjust to what may end up being our ‘new normal’. It also gave me a new appreciation for those front-line workers who are in the medical field. You hear about it on the news, but Wish gives you a whole new perspective and realization of what those workers have been going through for just over two years now. I also liked how we discover the Galapagos islands with Diana. We learn about the beauty of it and the people, history, and culture. Through Picoult’s descriptions I felt I was on the islands with Diana.
Be sure to read the author’s note to give you more perspective on Picoult’s research and reasoning for writing this novel.
I listened to the audiobook version which was narrated by Marin Ireland. She did a fabulous job narrating as she always does.
Wish You Were Here is recommended, but take heed and be cautious if you chose to read it. Be prepared for what you might be about to read.