“Wish You Were Here”

Wish You Were Here: A Novel by [Jodi Picoult]

Pandemic, world changing, lockdown, vacation 

This is a NO SPOILER review. “Wish You Were Here” is filled with surprises that readers should just find out for themselves. Diana O’Toole is twenty-one and works as an art specialist at Sotheby’s; she and boyfriend/roommate Dr. Finn Colson have booked a trip to the Galápagos. The travel agent told them it would be life-changing; little did they know. It is March 13, 2020, and the world is about to change. New York City suddenly has nine cases of Covid, and Finn’s hospital will not let him leave. The trip has been paid for, so Finn suggests that Diana get out of the city and go alone to the Galápagos.  

The story continues in Diana’s first-person narrative. She had her life planned, milestones for her and Finn together. No one ever thinks that the entire world will change between heartbeats, but it does. Readers understand as Diana agonizes over traveling alone, something she had not planned. She is in the Galápagos, but the islands are shut down. There is no way in or out; the hotel is closed, and she is stuck on an island where she does not even speak the language. Phone and internet service is spotty at best, but she occasionally receives messages from Finn detailing the disasters befalling him in a pandemic-stricken New York hospital, vastly different from her experience being quarantined in a sparse but exotic tropical paradise.  

The first day of the rest of her life begins in “Part Two.” (Remember, no spoilers here) There are lots of things that people do not know about how the brain works, about how the world works, but people do persevere, do move on. They may feel like they are lonely soldiers returning from war, but return they do. 

I received a review copy of “Wish You Were Here” from Jodi Picoult, Ballantine Books, and Random House Publishing. It starts as a casual, fun, entertaining story but rapidly becomes a compelling, world-changing, cautionary tale.  Picoult tells the stories that no one else can. “Life is never an absolute, but always a wager.”