Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway: Wish You Were Here

By Melissa Amster

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 an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. 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. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, 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.

In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, 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. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors and I have read almost everything she has written (with the exception of seeing Plain Truth as a movie instead). I have my share of favorites from her books, and am pleased to say that Wish You Were Here has made it onto that list.

Diana was easily relatable, even though there's 15 years between us. She was an interesting and sympathetic character and I could easily see becoming friends with her if we had met in real life. Her job even reminds me of my previous job, as we both had to research obituaries for somewhat similar reasons. So we could definitely commiserate about that together!

I really liked the setting of the Galápagos Islands, and not just because an important character went there on Schitt's Creek. (Given the timeline of the show and when Diana went, they should have met up if a crossover had been allowed.) The descriptions really brought it to life and the settings sounded amazing. I liked the life Diana made for herself there, while she had nowhere else to be.

I think I had my head buried in the sand during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic because I had no idea that it was as horrible as Finn recounts in his letters to Diana while she's away. I knew it was bad, but what Finn was describing was beyond nightmarish! 

Overall, it was a really compelling and well-told story that I had a hard time putting down to get back to real life. 

**I'll be posting spoilers below the giveaway, in case you've read it already or want to come back and read later after you've finished the book. Just scroll down quickly to the comments section if you are participating in the giveaway and haven't read the book yet.***

Movie casting suggestions:
Diana: Elizabeth Olsen
Beatriz: Kyndra Sanchez (she recently played Dawn in The Babysitter's Club, which I was watching while reading this novel.)
Gabriel: Jencarlos Caneda
Finn: Matt Lanter
Rodney: Dyllon Burnside

Thanks to Ballantine for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy for a lucky reader!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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Giveaway ends November 15th at midnight EST.



I did not see that twist coming in the middle. At all! It had me questioning everything I knew to be real about the story and kept wishing that was actually a dream and that her real life was in the Galápagos. I applaud Jodi for doing this with the story, as it was a total game changer!

I also didn't know that one's body could atrophy so much while being in bed on a ventilator for a certain period of time. It almost seemed like Diana had been paralyzed. 

I found it so interesting how people could be living these full lives in their dreams during a short time period, like the guy whose spanned several years before he came back to reality. 

More by Jodi Picoult:

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Padmini Rao said...

I learned that I can be by myself without feeling lonely.

Jeanne said...

I don’t mind being alone

traveler said...

I continued to follow my normal life and routine.

Grandma Cootie said...

I realized I am much more satisfied with my quiet life than I thought.

Carla S. said...

I can be happy being alone and in my comfortable home.

Nancy P said...

That I have been training for social distancing all my life. lol

Mary C said...

I enjoy life at a slower pace.

Nina said...

I learned that I can bake!

Katherine said...

I learned that I love virtual book events!

Mary Preston said...

That I am really not a social animal. My life hardly changed at all.

Cherisse said...

I’m reading a lot more!

diannekc said...

I've learned that I don't have a problem staying home and liking it.

Rita Wray said...

I'm okay with staying at home.

Mary Patricia Bird said...

I like socializing even less than I did before. I am comfortable in my own home.

Peggy Russo said...

I learned that I can be perfectly happy staying at home as long as I have books and internet.

Bonnie K. said...

I kind of already knew it but when we were on lockdown, I've learned that I do well staying home. I know how to keep occupied. Lots of reading and working in the garden. I don't like crowds.

bn100 said...

not really

Brenda Lee said...

Sometimes the most unexpected things turn into the best and the most precious things!

Linda Kish said...

I already knew I preferred being alone or with family only. It doesn't take a lot to entertain myself. I am at peace at home.

Anonymous said...

How to take care of myself and how much family means to me. Thanks for your great generosity. Linda May

rubynreba said...

Like just about everyone else, I find that being alone is great!

Liz Parker said...

found your link on Carole's linky :) I really loved this one and did NOT see the twist coming! At first I was like, ugh, another story about COVID ... but I ended up liking it a lot.