I normally don’t consider Jodi Picoult’s novels to be chick lit, even though most of them feature a strong female character. They’re often about murder, health problems, difficult choices, religion, or family dynamics and feature some sort of gray area and a lot of courtroom scenes. However, Ms. Picoult is a well known female author and one of her biggest concerns is that female authors don’t receive as many reviews as male authors. She also supports chick lit and endorses novels by chick lit authors. Therefore, I wanted to review "Lone Wolf" on this blog.
Luke Warren considers himself to be a family man. However, the family he relates to the most is a pack of wolves. He even neglects his wife and children to live amongst the wolves for an extended period of time. Eventually, his son moves far away and his wife files divorce papers, remarrying shortly thereafter. His teenage daughter is the only one who stands by his side, and she continues to do so when an accident lands him on life support. She’ll even fight with her brother over whether Luke should be allowed to live in this state of being. When matters reach a boiling point, it won’t be the wolves who get to decide Luke’s fate.
I had taken a couple of years off from reading Ms. Picoult’s novels. It was mainly because my focus was solely on chick lit and reviews for the blog. However, it was nice to be back in her world. It felt like I had never left! Ms. Picoult is such an amazing storyteller, that you forget you’re reading a book. She has a way of sweeping readers into the lives of all her characters, whether you agree with them or not. She takes the gray areas and muddies them even further, giving readers a chance to be on both sides of the decision and second guess even their own choices. I originally didn’t know that I’d want to read a medical drama about a man who has lived with wolves. However, she told his story in such a compelling way that I became interested in something I never was interested in before. Having gone to hear her speak recently, I had some background about the wolves and that made the story even easier to follow. I could tell she really did her research when writing about the wolves. I loved how each character’s voice was so distinct and I was able to sympathize with everyone involved. Her attention to detail and all the vivid descriptions of people and scenery made me feel like I was standing right next to everyone in the story. Unlike some of her past novels, I was satisfied with the ending. I won’t say why, as to not spoil the story. She also threw in a lot of surprises along the way. Her exploration of family dynamics and sensitive handling of the subject matter in regards to euthanasia made for a heart-wrenching novel that was impossible to put down.
Ms. Picoult does, however, have a tendency to overuse clichés and metaphors. I can’t clearly think of how she did it in past novels, but with the wolves as a backdrop to the story, she has many opportunities to compare them to Luke’s actual family that it becomes a bit too much after a while. I think it would be easy enough to make those comparisons without her having to point them out each and every time. I also felt like Luke needed to add more to his side of the story. With the surprises thrown in, he didn’t really address any of them and it would be interesting to see how they came about from his perspective. Finally, some of the names of the wolves got confusing to tell apart after a while. When she’d reintroduce them later in the story, I couldn’t always remember what had happened with them initially.
Overall, I really liked “Lone Wolf” and it reminded me why I love Ms. Picoult’s writing style so much. I plan to go back and read the novels I missed over the last couple of years, as it was nice to hear her “voice” again. (And it was also nice to hear it in person.) I can't wait to read about which controversial topic she'll cover in her next novel!
Side note: My mom, who came with me to hear Ms. Picoult speak a few weeks ago, also read "Lone Wolf." She said it is now her favorite of all Ms. Picoult's novels and was emotional throughout.
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