Tag: Jodi Picoult

Audiobook Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here
Author: Jodi Picoult

Published:  November 30, 2021
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 9-16, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

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.

Jessica’s Review:

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.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: April 11, 2017
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 19-29, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

Jessica’s Review:

This is a very intense and difficult read and it will be just as difficult to review because it deals with very sensitive topics: Race and prejudice.  We have three points of view throughout the novel:

Ruth Jefferson- An African American nurse with over 20 years of experience.
Turk Bauer- The father of the newborn and white supremacist.
Kennedy McQuarrie- A white public defender.

We learn about their pasts as well as the current chain of events.  We also meet their families through their backstories.  Turk is very much a character of pure hate. 

Everything with Small Great Things is compelling. You have no idea how Picoult is going to end this story.  The trial is engrossing and I wanted to continue listening to the audiobook.  The climax and ending come out of left field and were so extreme that it was unfortunately not believable.  ‘Stage Three’ which also serves as the Epilogue gave me some chills.

 This is a novel that will keep you thinking about the issue of race long after you have finished it.  There is also an important Author’s Note which I would tell you to read.  Picoult took a risk being a white woman and writing on the issue of race from an African American woman’s perspective, but handled it with grace and well researched with interviews. 

In addition to listening to the audiobook, I also have a UK paperback edition.  This included a short story from Ruth’s childhood where she also dealt with the issue of race. This short story shows how cruel children really can be.

Despite the unbelievable ending, Small Great Things is recommended.  It is supposed to become a movie as some point and I will watch it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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First Line Friday #21

Today’s First Line Friday is one I look forward to reading.  There is also a planned movie adaption starring Viola Davis and Julia Roberts.

The miracle happened on West 74th Street, in the home where Momma worked.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

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