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Wish You Were Here

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes 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 engag From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes 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.


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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes 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 engag From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes 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.

30 review for Wish You Were Here

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Of all the books I have read this year, I cannot think of any that will resonate so deeply with a global audience as this one. Jodi Picoult carries out an impressive level of research for her oh so human look at the pain, losses, lockdown, heartbreak, grief, loneliness and isolation experienced by people as the horrifying nightmare of Covid-19 took hold and shut down so much of the world. I can understand if this is too soon for many readers to read about, but I found this to be an absolutely ri Of all the books I have read this year, I cannot think of any that will resonate so deeply with a global audience as this one. Jodi Picoult carries out an impressive level of research for her oh so human look at the pain, losses, lockdown, heartbreak, grief, loneliness and isolation experienced by people as the horrifying nightmare of Covid-19 took hold and shut down so much of the world. I can understand if this is too soon for many readers to read about, but I found this to be an absolutely riveting read, highlighting the incredibly courageous work of the frontline medical staff, whilst providing an insightful glimpse into the beauty and nature of the Galapagos Islands, its people, history and culture. In New York, the ambitious Diana O'Toole is almost thirty, and on the verge of achieving all that she wants professionally as an art specialist at Sotheby's, and personally, convinced that Finn Colson, a surgical resident at the Presbyterian hospital will propose on a trip to Galapagos to celebrate her 30th birthday. However, her carefully planned life is about to be shot into tiny pieces when Finn is unable to go with her as a medical emergency develops with the beginnings of the Covid-19 virus. Diana arrives on Galapagos as it is going into quarantine and lockdown, leaving her stranded, her luggage is lost, she cannot speak the language, and communications are patchy. She is isolated and lonely, but finds herself connecting with a local family. Like so many people, Diana is to find herself re-evaluating her sense of identity and working out what really matters in life. There is a humdinger of a ingenious twist that Picoult weaves into the narrative that I cannot reveal as it will be entering into spoiler territory. This is one of the author's best works, it is multi-layered, the characters are stellar and feel so authentic, and whilst it does not make for easy reading, I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could. Ultimately, this is a emotionally poignant, thought provoking novel, of what it is to be human, and the love, resilence, bravery and hope in the face of a global pandemic that broke so many lives. I think so many readers will love and appreciate this book. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    Hmm, this is a tough one to review. In the end, I liked what Jodi Picoult did with Wish You Were Here. I like that she took it in, let's say, unexpected directions, and explored a subject I knew very little about. I did not predict the way this story would unfold. Which is good. That being said, I found the first half of this book very slow. Diana finds herself alone in the Galápagos islands, her boyfriend thousands of miles away fighting to save people from COVID in the emergency room, when the i Hmm, this is a tough one to review. In the end, I liked what Jodi Picoult did with Wish You Were Here. I like that she took it in, let's say, unexpected directions, and explored a subject I knew very little about. I did not predict the way this story would unfold. Which is good. That being said, I found the first half of this book very slow. Diana finds herself alone in the Galápagos islands, her boyfriend thousands of miles away fighting to save people from COVID in the emergency room, when the island is put on lockdown. With no way to get home, Diana wanders around being a bit of an ignorant tourist, meeting the locals, and trying to find a way to feed herself. Diana becomes involved in the lives of local businessman, Gabriel, and his daughter, Beatriz. Through these new friendships and interactions, she begins to question what she had thought she wanted from her life, to question the path she is on and whether it is the right one. This goes on for more than half of the book (192 pages in the e-arc). I was not enamoured by it. As I said earlier, though, the book does go on to take some interesting turns. It's unfortunate that what I liked about the book would reveal too much, so I can only really talk about my complaints here. It's rewarding for the patient reader.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This book took my breath away, making me terrified, scared, shaking me to the core: I’m overwhelmed because of dealing with complex feelings at the same time: sadness, amusement, excitement, stress, worry,anxiousness… It’s another Sliding Doors theme: where you could be and what kind of situations you may deal with if you make different choices about your life in the middle of pandemic. This is philosophical, metal psychical and psychological novel about how human lives evolve, how they change, h This book took my breath away, making me terrified, scared, shaking me to the core: I’m overwhelmed because of dealing with complex feelings at the same time: sadness, amusement, excitement, stress, worry,anxiousness… It’s another Sliding Doors theme: where you could be and what kind of situations you may deal with if you make different choices about your life in the middle of pandemic. This is philosophical, metal psychical and psychological novel about how human lives evolve, how they change, how adapt in new normal but mostly it’s about how to stay alive and protect our sanity when all hell breaks loose? Diane O’Toole, associate assistant at Sotheby’s, living with her surgical resident boyfriend Finn in NYC, mapped out her entire life with him: the house they live, the children they have, the bucket list trips they go, the retirement plans etc. Nearly four years they saved up for Galapagos trip they planned: this is the best time for Diane because legendary Kitomi Ito ( quiet twin of Yoko Ono) decided to postpone the auction of the famous Toulouse - Lautrec painting she owned because of uprising of contagious virus. This auction of masterpiece could bring the promotion to Diane, she’s working so hard for. But she is still keeping her hopes up: because she found a ring is hidden inside Finn’s socks. This means he’s planning to propose on their vacation and she’s going to say: yes! She’s gonna celebrate her 30th birthday as an engaged woman. Well, when they made plans, God laughed and eventually Finn admits: it’s all hands on deck at the hospital: the COVID cases start to hit NYC faster than they imagine. So he offers her to go alone and interestingly she accepts! But as soon as she gets off the plane she realizes her baggage is missing and that’s not the only predicament she has to face. When she gets off the ferry to walk to her hotel, she realizes her hotel is closed and for two weeks the entire island is shut down for quarantine. Thankfully a local woman provides her a house to stay, leaving traditional food at her kitchen. But Diane gets herself trapped in an island without knowing the langue islanders talk, failing to obey the curfew times, dealing with the hostile manners of a mysterious, charismatic man and her cash is about to run out at this place which doesn’t have any ATM machines. Did I also tell you there’s no proper internet connection! She starts writing postcards to communicate with Finn but the post office is also close. How will she send them? But her fate crosses with this charismatic mysterious man and his daughter which probably change her entire vision and perspective about the island! I’m not giving more spoilers! But i can only say that in the middle of the book, I dropped my e-reader and I screamed WTH! After shocking, jaw dropping revelation later, thankfully we didn’t have a bumpy ride. The emotional approach of the story and fair- satisfying ending made me smile a lot. I think I can give 10 stars for the heartfelt, earth shattering ending! It’s like last epic scene of remarkable movie! This book realistically tells us the terrifying and ugly face of COVID- 19. Especially Finn’s emails draw dark, compelling, horrifying and also honest depictions about how the entire medical professionals are fighting against the lethal disease. It makes you remind of respecting them so deeply! They are the real heroes who saved our lives and gave us hope to hold on for so long! Jodi Picoult is amazing storyteller: reflecting the dark face of tragedy we’ve been confronting nearly 1 and half years. She also depicted the perfect pictures of Galapagos. She told us a story of a girl who planned everything to choose different path from her mother she resented for abandoning her. But she also told how to open our hearts and forgive each other to be free from our resentments. I extremely loved this book so much ! I think this is one of the best works of the author. I liked Dante ( Tenth Circle is her another book focused on Dante’s Inferno), Tiger King ( I agree she is guilty), Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by natural selection references! This is one of the books you want to reread at different parts and timelines of your life. Annie’s inner journey will stay in your mind forever and eventually it will encourage you to start your inner journey to find out what you want to do with one and precious life of yours! Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group / Ballantine Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    NO SPOILERS…. …..It’s mid June, 2021. I’m reviewing this novel early. “Wish You Were Here”, will be released in stores in November, 2021. Diana O’Toole, an associate specialist at Sotheby’s, (one of the worlds largest brokers of art collectibles), and Finn Colson, (a surgical resident at the New York Presbyterian Hospital), were going to Galapagos. It was an expensive trip for two millennials in New York, but they had been saving up for four years. Diana was sure that Finn would propose to her on NO SPOILERS…. …..It’s mid June, 2021. I’m reviewing this novel early. “Wish You Were Here”, will be released in stores in November, 2021. Diana O’Toole, an associate specialist at Sotheby’s, (one of the worlds largest brokers of art collectibles), and Finn Colson, (a surgical resident at the New York Presbyterian Hospital), were going to Galapagos. It was an expensive trip for two millennials in New York, but they had been saving up for four years. Diana was sure that Finn would propose to her once on the island. At last minute, due to a virus, (only 19 cases of covid in New York at the time), Finn was told that within a couple of days, the emergency dept. at hospital would be swamped. He couldn’t leave. Finn thought Diana should still go — take the vacation alone. Disheartening and hesitant, Diana agrees. Once in Galapagos…the archipelago of the volcanic islands—marine turtles, sea lions, penguins, iguanas, hood mockingbirds, mangrove trees, black lava, strong sun, and where Charles Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana’s vacation goes haywire. Her luggage was lost. She was in a country where she didn’t speak the language. The internet connection was spotty at best, and the entire island was newly under quarantine. She meets a few locals - and with relentless storytelling, Jodi Picoult starts reeling us in. Jodi Piciout is a great observer and describer of the vagaries of life. She has a way of creating characters that are flawed, yet sympathetic, vulnerable, yet strong. She demonstrates that once again, no topic is off-limits or too difficult to handle. She pulled this novel off flawlessly….by eliciting strong emotional reactions. The reveals are skillfully written… showing readers bits and pieces until the full picture emerges. ….As the narrative took a compelling, and unexpected turn, I found it impossible to put this book down. ….I wanted the story to move in a different direction…yet the choices Jodi made were an uncomfortable gift. While Diana, (a protagonist that was both challenging and easy to understand), was grappling with what she wanted, what she needed, and how life circumstances were changing her….I was asking myself the same questions. ….I was sad to leave the characters I came to care about…..[characters who Picoult reached deeply into their souls to make them come alive] ….I was sobbing towards the end (I can’t intellectualize or explain the rawness of my full anguish away, even if I tried) — I just know I felt overwhelmingly sad. ….My body felt drained. I was aware of my own fragility, and vulnerability to the shock, sadness, and loss experienced from the powerful realistic emotional punch of heartbreaking unyielding mind-boggling storytelling. It cuts to the bone—not sunny, nor sappy….. …..yet Jodi Picoult, not only wrote this novel free from fear, passionate, gentle, and for her characters survival, but for ours too. It’s no accident Jodi Picoult is one of the foremost Best Selling authors of her generation. And this novel, might just be her finest work yet.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)

    4.5 stars Wow, I'm not sure how to put into words what I just read. I will start off with a bit of a warning. If you're not in a place where you can read about the experiences of Covid from many different angles, then I'd recommend you steer clear of this one for a while. The trauma of the pandemic is very real, and the author does an incredibly good job of conveying it to the reader in a visceral way. I have not read a book by Picoult in years. I became disenchanted with her issues-driven writing 4.5 stars Wow, I'm not sure how to put into words what I just read. I will start off with a bit of a warning. If you're not in a place where you can read about the experiences of Covid from many different angles, then I'd recommend you steer clear of this one for a while. The trauma of the pandemic is very real, and the author does an incredibly good job of conveying it to the reader in a visceral way. I have not read a book by Picoult in years. I became disenchanted with her issues-driven writing that always felt like it had an agenda. I suppose this one is similar, but it doesn't seem to be forcing things down my throat. I had seen so many stellar reviews for it that I took the chance to pick this one up and wasn't disappointed. It takes a LOT to surprise me. I maybe read one or two books a year that truly knock me off kilter with a surprise. This one might be my one for the year. This book features Diana, an art acquisition specialist at Sotheby's with a long term boyfriend, Finn, who is a surgical resident. The two are planning a bucket list trip to the Galapagos in March of 2020, and Diana found an engagement ring hidden in the dresser so she is pretty sure Finn will propose during the trip. Yet Covid has begun to hit New York City with a vengeance, and Finn has to stay and work, it is all hands on deck. He encourages Diana to go on the trip without him and she reluctantly agrees. As soon as she arrives on the small island, the world goes into lockdown and she's unable to return home. Communication is spotty. She gradually gets to know some of the residents of the island, and becomes very close to them. The book is so much more complex than my short synopsis can convey. There are parental abandonment issues, re-examination of life choices, and myriad other issues that the pandemic brought to the surface for many, if not all of us. The reason I didn't rate this a full five stars was because I didn't really like Diana most of the time (sometimes she is sympathetic, but other times she is very selfish) and I hate infidelity in any form. I get that she was struggling being so isolated and far away, but to me it isn't an excuse and so a half of a star taken away for that. However this book overall is incredibly insightful and thought provoking, as well has having a jaw dropping moment that I won't forget anytime soon. If anything, this book should make everyone really think about the choices we make in life and why we are making those choices. The pandemic has allowed many of us to reassess what is truly important in our lives. This is a meaty book, filled with emotion and anguish, and like I said at the beginning, it's not a book for everyone at this time. I really appreciated the author's note at the end and it gave me so much perspective about the choices that the author made in her writing of this novel. This would make a fantastic book club choice, there's a lot here that begs to be discussed and dissected. Edited to add: I think she missed a golden opportunity to add an Easter egg here and call the singing group the Scarabs or something beetle related rather than bird related. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** Diana O’Toole is a young woman who is very ambitious. She has a plan for her life that she has outlined carefully. She is happy with the track that she’s on and she has a boyfriend whom she loves and sees a future with. Finn is handsome, loving and a surgical resident!! Diana and Finn have planned a romantic getaway to the Galapagos, where they will celebrate her 30th birthday. They have been listening to the news, reports of a virus in China that is deadly, but it see ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** Diana O’Toole is a young woman who is very ambitious. She has a plan for her life that she has outlined carefully. She is happy with the track that she’s on and she has a boyfriend whom she loves and sees a future with. Finn is handsome, loving and a surgical resident!! Diana and Finn have planned a romantic getaway to the Galapagos, where they will celebrate her 30th birthday. They have been listening to the news, reports of a virus in China that is deadly, but it seems worlds away. The night before their planned departure, Finn tells her that his vacation has been cancelled and all hospital personnel must be ready for the wave of patients that the hospital is expecting. To quote John Lennon - “LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU WHILE YOU’RE BUSY MAKING OTHER PLANS” Finn convinces Diana to go on the trip without him. They have invested so much time and money and she has dreamed of seeing the islands. We travel with Diana as she reaches Isabel island. But there are challenges. Her luggage is lost, her hotel is closed and she doesn’t speak Spanish!! It isn’t long before the island is quarantined. Diana has no choice but to stay. As she relaxes into the inevitable, she meets people that she likes and who are kind and helpful. With the help of Gabriel, a former tour guide, Diana discovers the incredible animals of the island. There are land tortoises, flamingos, penguins, sea lions and marine iguanas. So much to see and experience!! The landscape is incredible, from lush green vegetation to dry land shaped by volcanic eruptions. Meanwhile internet connections are difficult but she does get news from Finn, there are so many deaths in NYC. They are running out of ventilators, he works for days without a break. Every time she gets an email from Finn, things keep getting worse, more people are dying!!!!! Ms. Picoult’s writing shines in this novel!! Her descriptions are so vivid I could picture the landscape, the volcano and the sea. The characters are well described and I got lost in the story. The characters evolve and change along with the story!! There are shifts in the novel, we are able to enter the world of NYC hospitals in crisis mode!! The nurses and doctors are all doing their best, but they are fighting an unknown enemy!! BE PREPARED TO REVISIT THE ISOLATION WE ALL FELT, THE INABILITY TO SEE OUR LOVED ONES AND TO HEAR WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE A FRONTLINE WARRIOR!! I felt truly engaged with the characters, I found the story believable and I learned so much. This novel was worth reliving the worst of 2020, the year when the world was stuck on PAUSE!! The author’s notes are not to be missed and add depth to the novel. You will learn why Ms. Picoult was compelled to write this novel and all the research she did. I can highly recommend this book to everyone!!! I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, Ballantine Books, through NetGalley.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    Waiting out COVID-19 from the Galapagos Diana O'Toole has always been a planner. She has serious life dreams, and she is steadily making progress. Her career is promising, and she has a hunky doctor boyfriend. She even has a travel list, and she is planning on visiting the Galapagos Islands. Timing isn't always ideal, and the pandemic breaks out just as she lands in the Galapagos. What will Diana learn about herself from this time? How much of life should be planned? The first half of this book wa Waiting out COVID-19 from the Galapagos Diana O'Toole has always been a planner. She has serious life dreams, and she is steadily making progress. Her career is promising, and she has a hunky doctor boyfriend. She even has a travel list, and she is planning on visiting the Galapagos Islands. Timing isn't always ideal, and the pandemic breaks out just as she lands in the Galapagos. What will Diana learn about herself from this time? How much of life should be planned? The first half of this book was dynamite, definitely 5-stars. It was incredibly engaging, and it would cut from times in the Galapagos to back to certain time periods of Diana's life. I had a ball looking up the different animals from the Galapagos and all different pictures of the islands. The second half of the book was extremely slow paced and felt like running through sand. It was far too long. I would rate the last half of the book two or maybe three stars. There is a twist that I never saw coming which was pretty delightful. I'm definitely looking for more from Jodi Picoult! *Thank you, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased opinion. 2022 Reading Schedule Jan Animal Farm Feb Lord of the Flies Mar The Da Vinci Code Apr Of Mice and Men May Memoirs of a Geisha Jun Little Women Jul The Lovely Bones Aug Charlotte's Web Sep Life of Pi Oct Dracula Nov Gone with the Wind Dec The Secret Garden Connect With Me! Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lisa_of_Troy YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvmS... Facebook: https://facebook.com/LisaofTroy Email: [email protected]

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kat (on semi-hiatus for a bit)

    Diana O’Toole, an associate specialist for Sotheby’s auction house, has her perfect life in NYC with surgical resident, Finn, mapped out - all that’s missing is the proposal and wedding, and she’s pretty sure she’s about to get the former on their romantic vacation to the Galapagos. When the initial wave of COVID hits and Finn is needed at the hospital, Diana goes solo and finds herself trapped longer than expected by travel restrictions. What she discovers during and after this extended vacatio Diana O’Toole, an associate specialist for Sotheby’s auction house, has her perfect life in NYC with surgical resident, Finn, mapped out - all that’s missing is the proposal and wedding, and she’s pretty sure she’s about to get the former on their romantic vacation to the Galapagos. When the initial wave of COVID hits and Finn is needed at the hospital, Diana goes solo and finds herself trapped longer than expected by travel restrictions. What she discovers during and after this extended vacation opens her eyes and makes her re-evaluate the future she’s envisioned. I’ve learned something about myself after finishing this book: I think I’m broken. Looking around at all my friends’ glowing reviews for this, I have to wonder why I didn’t feel those things too. Let me start with some things Jodi Picoult did so well in this book, though, because she deserves credit where it’s due: First: This woman researched the hell out of the major aspects of COVID-19 from transmission to its after effects and it SHOWS. Many won’t be ready for such an unflinching, no-holds-barred look at this virus, but if you ever feel ready to look at it more closely in the relative safety of a fictionalized story, this is your book. It’s difficult and sobering at times, but it’s also terribly insightful and honest, and I can respect that. I learned a lot that I didn’t know, and I think it’s a tremendous learning opportunity for those who want it. Second: She writes very well. Structure, plot, fully-developed characters, pacing, atmosphere, the big twist, which was so clever … it’s all there. It’s perfectly good fiction, and it will appeal to many readers, as evidenced by all those aforementioned glowing reviews. So why didn’t it work as well for me? First: The story felt forced. COVID-19 was really the body of the book, so to speak, and Diana’s story was just the clothing thrown on to disguise it. Picoult had all this knowledge about the virus to share, but it felt much better suited for a non-fiction book. Finn’s emails to Diana were just woefully unrealistic to me. Not the detailed names of medicines, machines and interventions used on patients - that was highly factual, but given their circumstances of being separated for so long, it didn’t feel like this is what he’d be spending all his time writing the love of his life about. Second: Despite the reasoning for Diana’s decision-making and conclusions, I couldn’t get onboard with it. I can’t really discuss it for spoiler reasons, but it didn’t ring true to me, and I really didn't like the ending. She just didn't make sense to me. Third: The first half of the book was - there’s no way to put this politely - kind of boring. Maybe that was intentional on the author’s part to put the reader back in the mindset of the early days of the pandemic when everything was shut down and we were spending our days struggling to find things to do, but this reader wasn’t ready to revisit those days and how the world felt then. As I said, it’s a well-written book with an abundance of 4 and 5-star reviews, so I encourage you to read some of those before deciding whether the book is for you. It’s simply a case of right book, wrong reader for me. ★★★ ½ Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, NetGalley and author Jodi Picoult for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinions. It’s due for publication on November 30, 2021. This review and all my others can also be seen at: https://acuriouskatreads.blogspot.com/

  9. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    If books were retail establishments, Wish You Were Here would be The COVID Store. Not a Walmart or Tesco, where you can grab a quart of COVID while you’re there to stock up on a cart-full of subjects. Nope, this is all COVID/all the time. While many recent contemporary novels have included the new pandemic world to varying degrees of specificity, none to my knowledge have immersed readers quite so completely into one character’s experience dealing with its ramifications. The book begins just as If books were retail establishments, Wish You Were Here would be The COVID Store. Not a Walmart or Tesco, where you can grab a quart of COVID while you’re there to stock up on a cart-full of subjects. Nope, this is all COVID/all the time. While many recent contemporary novels have included the new pandemic world to varying degrees of specificity, none to my knowledge have immersed readers quite so completely into one character’s experience dealing with its ramifications. The book begins just as the first wave is hitting New York hospitals. Diana, a 29-year-old art historian, must decide if she should go on vacation to the Galápagos without her boyfriend, Finn, a doctor who needs to stay put and help manage the crisis on the front lines. She goes, and she ends up getting stuck there. Of course there are worse places to ride out COVID. The scenery is lush and inspirational, the people are captivating, and the overall experience is perspective-shifting. While Diana is meeting new friends and finding her true self, Finn is back home risking his life every day as a first responder. And I hated her for it. I contemplated throwing this novel across the room many times. “If I even finish it, this is a 2-star read at best,” I thought. But then… I’ve got to hand it to Jodi Picoult, I don’t think I can name another book that gave me whiplash quite like Wish You Were Here did. She sure got me! By the end, I was captivated. Diana had dug herself a pretty deep hole in my eyes, but I opened up to the possibility of her redemption. It’s so rare for me to allow a second half of a novel to make up for the first that I have to give Picoult credit. Reading through other reviews, Wish You Were Here is clearly a polarizing reading experience. It’s just not a “meh” type of book. Prepare for impact if you do pick it up, though what impact it will have on you personally is hard to say. Recommend it for your book club and get ready to watch the sparks fly! People gonna have opinions on this one. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael David

    HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY! Jodi Picoult is back in the game with this touching and emotional novel set during the COVID-19 pandemic. Diana is nearly 30, about to make a major sale in her art auction job, and is happily in a relationship with surgical resident Finn. They are about to take a two week vacation to the Galápagos, and Diana just knows Finn is going to propose to her there. Life is perfect. Until the very real COVID-19 pandemic hits NYC. It’s all hands on deck at the hospital where Finn work HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY! Jodi Picoult is back in the game with this touching and emotional novel set during the COVID-19 pandemic. Diana is nearly 30, about to make a major sale in her art auction job, and is happily in a relationship with surgical resident Finn. They are about to take a two week vacation to the Galápagos, and Diana just knows Finn is going to propose to her there. Life is perfect. Until the very real COVID-19 pandemic hits NYC. It’s all hands on deck at the hospital where Finn works, and there’s no way he can leave for vacation. He convinces Diana to go without him so that the money they spent isn’t completely wasted. Reluctantly, she goes on the trip, but it’s not the luxurious dream vacation she had in mind. The island has shut down and everyone is in lockdown. There are no ferries to get to the airport, and no flights to get her back home. The hotel she was supposed to stay at is closed. Luckily, she meets a local woman who lets her stay at the empty apartment attached to her house. Feeling isolated and completely alone, Diana meets a local family who help her out and start to embrace her. The longer she’s on the island and the more she starts to enjoy it, Diana will question many things about her life - what she wants out of it and who she wants in it. While some readers may not be ready to embrace a story set during COVID times, I couldn’t help myself. Picoult writes a gripping story that is largely unputdownable. As usual, it’s immediate how much research she put into it. We learn about the world of art (and art auctions), the culture of the Galápagos, and of course...the pandemic. What I really appreciated was learning about the emergency healthcare workers on the frontline in the early days of lockdown when there were so many unanswered questions. Of course, I’ve read and seen stories on the news, but Picoult personally interviewed so many of them and used their experiences in the story. She’s right when she says we can never thank them enough for all that they do. I wish I could go into more detail with my thoughts, but I’m not able to do so without giving spoilers. I can imagine that what happens in this book might not sit well with ALL readers, but ultimately it worked for me and made me think. Again, the research Picoult did is astounding...but it’s not information overload (unlike her last book which shoved Egypt down my throat). The author’s note is a must-read as Picoult goes into detail about the writing and research for the book, and how it came to fruition. I absolutely loved reading about her writing journey. Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Expected Publication Date: 11/30/21. Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    No doubt about it. Jodi Picoult is a polished writer, and her research is always meticulous. This author can write. So, this rating is not a reflection of her talent…but rather one reflecting my enjoyment level of reading this story. Or lack of enjoyment, as the case may be. This book is HEAVY. Diane O’Toole is climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world, and is about to depart for the Galápagos, with her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident in Manhattan, when the first case No doubt about it. Jodi Picoult is a polished writer, and her research is always meticulous. This author can write. So, this rating is not a reflection of her talent…but rather one reflecting my enjoyment level of reading this story. Or lack of enjoyment, as the case may be. This book is HEAVY. Diane O’Toole is climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world, and is about to depart for the Galápagos, with her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident in Manhattan, when the first cases of Covid-19 appear in the city. The hospital needs all hands on deck. Their vacation is non-refundable and he encourages her to take it, not realizing how bad things would get. Diana finds herself stranded there, the borders closed, the Island under quarantine. During her time there, we will learn A LOT about Art History, the Art Auction world and the beautiful Galápagos Islands-and if you are interested in these topics, you may find the book fascinating…… Because Finn is back home, we also learn everything about what the ICU Doctors, Nurses and other medical staff endured….and are still enduring, as they learned to fight Covid, by trial and error, and it’s detailed. This is a prevalent theme in the entire book, and Ms. Picoult does not hold back. If you read this-be prepared! If you have lost someone to Covid-19-it may be too soon to pick this up. I do LOVE what a wonderful tribute it is to the medical community…the men and women who continue to be the heroes of this Pandemic. BUT-if you read to escape and be entertained-it’s not going to happen here. I found Diana to be a selfish woman, who easily justified the decisions she makes-so that didn’t help either. But the point was to have us, as a reader, reflect upon how an EXPERIENCE, can change our perceptions of what is and is not important, and perhaps change our lives forever. Be sure to read the author’s notes AFTER the epilogue. NOW AVAILABLE! Thank You to Ballantine Books for my gifted copy provided through NetGalley. It was my pleasure to offer a candid review

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    Inhale ↔️ exhale. To be completely honest, I was nervous as hell, beginning this book. I love Jodi Picoult, but a book revolving around Covid…I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.🙈 Diana and Finn have planned the ultimate dream vacation. A once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galápagos Islands. But when New York is ravaged by Covid, it looks like their dream holiday will have to be shelved. Finn is a resident at a large New York Hospital and things are about to hit the fan. It’s all hands on deck! Jodi P Inhale ↔️ exhale. To be completely honest, I was nervous as hell, beginning this book. I love Jodi Picoult, but a book revolving around Covid…I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.🙈 Diana and Finn have planned the ultimate dream vacation. A once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galápagos Islands. But when New York is ravaged by Covid, it looks like their dream holiday will have to be shelved. Finn is a resident at a large New York Hospital and things are about to hit the fan. It’s all hands on deck! Jodi Picoult brought the stark reality of the pandemics’ first wave to life. Capturing the consuming fear and exhausting moment of every healthcare worker called into the fight to deal with the nightmare crisis. No sensationalism here…just the brutal reality of it all. The structure of the chapters midway had me subconsciously holding my breath! (You’ll understand once you read it). I was captivated, nearly frozen in place. My emotions were raw as tears endlessly flowed down my cheeks for the final 20%. Even when simply trying to describe the book to a friend they start flowing again.😢 I’d love to go into more detail, but the less you know going in the better. A must-read for 2021! A buddy read with Susanne Posted to: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)

    **Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House-Ballantine, and Jodi Picoult for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 11.30.21!** Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Can you remember EXACTLY what life was like before COVID-19? The dreams you had, the trips you wanted to take, the memories you thought you could make? Jodi Picoult's latest novel, fresh off the front page of life, explores all of these questions, as her characters battle the pandemic from two entirely different perspectives. The result? **Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House-Ballantine, and Jodi Picoult for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 11.30.21!** Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Can you remember EXACTLY what life was like before COVID-19? The dreams you had, the trips you wanted to take, the memories you thought you could make? Jodi Picoult's latest novel, fresh off the front page of life, explores all of these questions, as her characters battle the pandemic from two entirely different perspectives. The result? A tale as heartbreaking and poignant as you could possibly imagine. Diana always has a plan. Her PLANS have plans. Working for Sotheby's art auction house, alongside her charismatic and lovable best friend Rodney, she is about to close the deal on a very special Toulouse-Lautrec painting, while her boyfriend-and-she's-sure-soon-to-be-fiancée Finn works at a hospital in NYC completing his residency. The two are just about to check off one of their collective bucket list items with a trip to the stunning Galapagos islands. However, news of this new virus has brought the city to a standstill and Finn is trapped at work with no respite in sight. Diana hesitantly listens to Finn when he tells her to go on their trip anyway...and despite her reservations, she does. After arriving, however, COVID continues to escalate, essentially trapping Diana on a small island in paradise.. As idyllic as this sounds, Diana quickly learns she will not be able to return to NYC anytime soon...and she's stuck with almost nothing to her name, no way to contact Finn, lingering fears about her mother's health at the front of her mind, and she's forced to quickly adapt to island life. When she befriends a few locals, however, her perspective on the trajectory of her life begins to shift. What exactly IS she missing at home? Can she hide forever in paradise? And as lives hang in the balance, is she gaining more than she thought she lost? Picoult has a knack for pressing a finger firmly on the pulse of our nation (and in this case, our world!) and does it again with this book. She never shies away from controversial topics and isn't afraid to make her viewpoints known. Aside from her political views, however, she knows how to write a heart and gut-wrenching story and although this book didn't move me to tears, it did SHOCK me. There is a Trademark Picoult Twist® that whether you like it or not, and see it coming or not, will turn everything on its head for you as a reader. I was absolutely stunned, and it's probably one of the more surprising experiences I've had reading any of Picoult's books thus far. And of course there's the small fact that we are all STILL dealing with COVID in some way shape or form, so at times it was difficult to read about it, mainly because like so many of us, I wish this was a chapter we could consider closed. Picoult never rests though, her thorough and detailed research shines, although it can feel like a LOT at times. But again, this is due to the fact that COVID has been such a loud and relevant part of our lives for well over a year now, and the fatigue can be overwhelming (and I can only imagine how it is exponentially worse for those in the medical field and on the front lines in any respect!) 👏 It's easy to identify that feeling of nostalgia for a time when masks weren't a part of our daily wardrobes, when we didn't time how long we washed our hands, and most of all, when TRAVEL was an easy and effortless break from the monotony of day-to-day life and Wish You Were Here captures all of these emotions. What it also ultimately does, however, is remind us that destiny is ALWAYS in our hands even when the universe tries to tell us otherwise. This is another strong, beautiful, and moving effort from Picoult, and hopefully someday it will stand testament to a time when we could feel truly grateful for all that we have, all we can give, and all the potential our lives TRULY hold. 4 ⭐

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    Not yet thirty, Diana O’Toole has had her life planned out, she’s already moving up in her profession, working at Sotheby’s, and her personal life has been fairly smooth sailing, as well. Her boyfriend is a surgical resident, and they are preparing to leave soon for Galapagos. She will celebrate her 30th birthday while on this lovely vacation away from the city, spent with the man she loves, and is pretty sure he will propose. Everything seems to be falling into place just as she’d planned. And t Not yet thirty, Diana O’Toole has had her life planned out, she’s already moving up in her profession, working at Sotheby’s, and her personal life has been fairly smooth sailing, as well. Her boyfriend is a surgical resident, and they are preparing to leave soon for Galapagos. She will celebrate her 30th birthday while on this lovely vacation away from the city, spent with the man she loves, and is pretty sure he will propose. Everything seems to be falling into place just as she’d planned. And then - COVID. Her boyfriend Finn is needed as a health care worker, but insists that she go anyway, their trip is non-refundable, and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t go even if they both can’t go. At least she can get away from all of this for a while. When her plane lands she finds out that her luggage is lost, and when the boat taking her to the island arrives, she realizes it may be the last boat there. And back. I’ve read several books by Jodi Picoult, but nowhere near all of them - she’s a very prolific writer. Until I read this, I would have said that her The Storyteller was the one that pulled me in completely. But this tops that one for me, there were so many beautiful moments in this, so many ones we could all relate to - unless we’ve ignored the news for the last year and a half. So many that gave me hope. There’s so much more to this story, the connection she makes with the place and the people, along with the struggles she faces in a place where she doesn’t speak the language, and the restrictions. But she allows herself to open up to the limited possibilities available and celebrates the beauty found in this lovely place and in the people. The struggle with feeling isolated, even as we have all struggled during this isolation, that isolation, that struggle is also what connects us. While the pandemic is what propels this story to the story that follows, it is so much more than just a pandemic story. It is a story of love in all its many forms, finding the people and places that call you home, and recognizing the beauty in answering that call. Published: 30 Nov 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine / Ballantine Books

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    Brilliant and stunning. I preordered this book months ago when I saw it was about a trip to the Galapagos. I visited the islands 30 years ago, and memories of that enchanting place are still fresh in my mind. Unfortunately, a couple of the early reviews I read gave away the mind-boggling twist but did not interfere with my reading pleasure when the book was finally published. No twists revealed in this review. This deals with the horror of COVID in heartbreaking, riveting storytelling. Wish You Brilliant and stunning. I preordered this book months ago when I saw it was about a trip to the Galapagos. I visited the islands 30 years ago, and memories of that enchanting place are still fresh in my mind. Unfortunately, a couple of the early reviews I read gave away the mind-boggling twist but did not interfere with my reading pleasure when the book was finally published. No twists revealed in this review. This deals with the horror of COVID in heartbreaking, riveting storytelling. Wish You Were Here explores the world that changed almost two years ago when the pandemic entered our lives. It addresses loss, grief, death, pain, isolation, resilience, hope, dreams, sexual identity, and art. It is well-researched on a scientific level but also has some powerful metaphysical themes. This emotional read brought me to tears, and I had to resist a strong urge to peek at the final chapter. Diana O'Toole is approaching her 30th birthday. She has her life well planned and is on a path where everything she hoped for is falling into place. She has decided to be married by age 30 and have two children by the time she is 35. She shares an apartment in New York City with her boyfriend, Finn, a handsome surgical resident. She knows that he is going to propose marriage on an upcoming romantic vacation in the Galapagos. Their future plans are right on schedule. They will live in upper New York and have a bucket list for future travel, children, and a dog. Diana works for Sotheby's in the art acquisition field. She has a new wealthy celebrity client (easily identified as Yoko Ono under a different name.) By selling her valuable painting, she is bound to be awarded a prestigious promotion at the auction house. What could go wrong? The time is early 2020, and the pandemic has reached NYC. The world we are living in is about to change drastically. So far, there are 19 patients in the hospital with the disease. Finn has been warned that it will rapidly become much worse, despite the denial of President Trump of danger. As the sick and dying flood into the hospital where Finn is working, he cannot leave on holiday. He urges Diana to go on her own since the trip is already paid for. Diana has not gone to movies or a restaurant by herself. Besides Finn, her main friend and confidant is a flamboyant, gay black man, also an employee of the auction house. He plays an important part later in the story. Diana accepts Finn's wish that she travel to the Galapagos on her own for the two-week vacation. This suggestion takes her firmly out of her comfort zone, but she is determined to follow his suggestion and heads to Isabela Island in the Galapagos by herself. As the hospital becomes overwhelmed by patients, Finn is afraid, sleepless, and very stressed. He resents that Diana followed his suggestion rather than staying in their apartment to comfort him when he returns home after long hours on duty and the hopelessness of it all. He thought she would reject his advice. Frontline workers, like Finn, have shown great heroism during the pandemic. When Diana arrives on Isabela Island, tourists are rushing to leave the Galapagos. It is going into lockdown. Diana is determined to prove herself by staying the two weeks. Her luggage was lost in route. She does not understand the language. Her prepaid hotel is locked down, as are the shops and restaurants. Worse. The banks are closed, and there is no ATM. She does not have sufficient cash on her person. All communication with the outside world is unreliable and spotty. She wants to confirm that she can cope. While wandering in distress, trying to figure what to do, a kindly, older lady leads Diana into her home. People are distant at first because she is an outsider and tourist. As the two-week lockdown is extended and there is no way to leave, they regard her as one of their own. She gradually makes friends with the son of the homeowner. He is a gruff, charismatic man who has a small farm and his daughter, an unhappy, self-harming 14-year-old. She is developing close bonds with these people. She is delighted to explore the wonders of the island with her new friends. The animal life, the landscape, the volcanoes, swimming in the clear waters amongst penguins and sea lions. Nature is described in vivid, atmospheric detail. As the weeks pass, Diana is feeling quite content in her surroundings. Her time there is not without problems. She has written postcards to Finn, assuring him that everything is fine and that she misses him. These were never posted as promised. She is unable to reach him by phone. She gets occasional text messages from him describing the sickness and the horrors he is witnessing and his resentment that she didn't remain home with him. She also must face the news that her much absent and neglectful mother, a Pulitizer Prize-winning photojournalist, had died in a nursing home with early-onset dementia in Diana's absence. She is re-evaluating her life choices, her well-planned schedule, and her past hopes and dreams. She is evolving a new, different identity while trying to work out what is important to her. She is in no hurry to leave the island and her new friends. One day, while swimming in the ocean, she almost drowns and is rescued close to death. Then something very unexpected and shocking occurs that makes us doubt everything we thought we knew. I loved this book, with its location, well-developed, fascinating characters, unexpected revelations, unique plot, and thought-provoking storyline. Some people will find the description of the pandemic too disturbing at this point in time. Highly recommended for readers who can cope with intense images of the chaos inside the hospital wards.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    What a page turner! This is a pandemic themed novel involving a young couple who live together in NYC at the time when COVID was first beginning to swamp the hospitals and there were so many deaths. Finn is a hospital resident doctor at the hospital and Diana is an art specialist at Sotheby’s. They had a previously planned trip to the Galapagos, and when the departure date comes.. Finn insists that Diana go alone since he can’t get away, as he is stuck basically 24/7 at the hospital. Diana makes it What a page turner! This is a pandemic themed novel involving a young couple who live together in NYC at the time when COVID was first beginning to swamp the hospitals and there were so many deaths. Finn is a hospital resident doctor at the hospital and Diana is an art specialist at Sotheby’s. They had a previously planned trip to the Galapagos, and when the departure date comes.. Finn insists that Diana go alone since he can’t get away, as he is stuck basically 24/7 at the hospital. Diana makes it to the island just before everything is totally closed down. Even though this was a story involving COVID, it was still an enjoyable read. Shocking plot twist! Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Group-Ballantine for the ARC!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    What can I say about this that hasn't already been written? Jodi Picoult is the master of research and her writing is top-notch here! I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was perfect! Part One was hands-down a 5 star. It "wowed" me!! Part Two was good and fascinated me but I feel it was a little bit too long. If you're ready for a Covid story 😷 then this one is for you. Be prepared to go on a gutsy journey about survival, courage, love and loss. What can I say about this that hasn't already been written? Jodi Picoult is the master of research and her writing is top-notch here! I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was perfect! Part One was hands-down a 5 star. It "wowed" me!! Part Two was good and fascinated me but I feel it was a little bit too long. If you're ready for a Covid story 😷 then this one is for you. Be prepared to go on a gutsy journey about survival, courage, love and loss.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Spectacular. It left an ache behind in my heart.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    I get what the author was trying to do with this book… I guess.. but it was a no from me 🤷🏻‍♀️ I thought the main character was so obnoxious and frustrating and I really don’t understand the glowing reviews. Did I miss something? 😅 Part 2 of this book takes such a surprising turn, but like.. not in a good way. It just felt kind of ridiculous to me 😬

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    Somewhere between 3 - 3.5 stars The day before Diana and Finn are scheduled to leave on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos Islands, Finn finds out he has to stay behind to continue working. Covid-19 is a new virus that is taking over NYC and it’s ‘all hands on deck’ at the hospital where he is a surgical resident. Finn tells Diana to go on the trip without him and she does. This was my first dive into a Covid themed novel. I was really hesitant in knowing if I was “ready” to tackle this subje Somewhere between 3 - 3.5 stars The day before Diana and Finn are scheduled to leave on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos Islands, Finn finds out he has to stay behind to continue working. Covid-19 is a new virus that is taking over NYC and it’s ‘all hands on deck’ at the hospital where he is a surgical resident. Finn tells Diana to go on the trip without him and she does. This was my first dive into a Covid themed novel. I was really hesitant in knowing if I was “ready” to tackle this subject matter since it’s still so fresh and prevalent in the real world. I thought the author did a fantastic job with how she incorporated all of her Covid research. I am happy to report that the Covid piece worked well for me. Jodi Picoult is a favourite author of mine. Her storylines and characters are usually a ‘for sure’ fit for me. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case with this novel (which was extra disappointing). A few major things didn’t work for me — the main character and the storyline itself. I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Diana. She wasn’t likeable, didn’t feel genuine and came across as selfish. My lack of connection with her kept me at a distance from the entire storyline. I was interested but never invested. My emotions were never touched. My issue with the storyline itself is that it could have been done so many other ways and been more impactful (for me). I simply wasn’t a fan of the way Covid was incorporated into the book. I also felt that the book was too heavy on the romance aspect. Overall, it was an “okay” read but not nearly as fantastic as I had hoped and expected. I know I’m the outlier with my thoughts, so please read the many raving reviews before deciding on this one. Thank you to my lovely local library for the loan!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    “Wish You Were Here” is Jodi Picoult’s 26th novel and expected to be seen on Netflix in the future. In this story, Picoult addresses the virus, to make sense (if there is any sense) to the pandemic. Picoult chose to use the Galapagos to center her story. Her protagonist, Diana, is on the edge of 30; she’s single and living with her surgeon boyfriend in NYC. Diana and her man, Finn, are set to enjoy a beautiful and needed vacation to the Galapagos. Unfortunately, the virus becomes an issue right b “Wish You Were Here” is Jodi Picoult’s 26th novel and expected to be seen on Netflix in the future. In this story, Picoult addresses the virus, to make sense (if there is any sense) to the pandemic. Picoult chose to use the Galapagos to center her story. Her protagonist, Diana, is on the edge of 30; she’s single and living with her surgeon boyfriend in NYC. Diana and her man, Finn, are set to enjoy a beautiful and needed vacation to the Galapagos. Unfortunately, the virus becomes an issue right before they were to leave. Finn insisted that she still go, even though he has been told by his hospital that he cannot. It’s a non-refundable trip, so Finn suggests that she go without him. She’s uneasy about traveling without him, but decides to go since she’s a modern woman. In her previous novels, it was evident early what her “issue” was that she’s illuminating to her readers. As I read this, I kept wondering, “What is she trying to say here? What is her thing?” Well, it seems that her theme is that we were all thrown into this crazy life, heads spinning, wondering what is true and what is media hype in what seemed was overnight in time. She doesn’t go into politics, which I appreciated. But she did go into the confusion we felt. She also illuminated what the front-line workers endured. Diana and Finn live in NYC, which we all know was ground zero early in the pandemic. Picoult uses Finn to provide the reader with the horror that hospital workers bore. Diana gets stuck at the Galapagos. Through Diana the reader learns about the islands and island life, and more importantly, she learns about herself. My best part of this story is the information provided by Finn. The daily horror that these frontline workers endured is striking. No one knew anything. No one knew how to care for the sick. Picoult did a fabulous job giving the emotional stress that we all went through. Picoult is easy to read and she confronts controversial issues. In this one, she writes about the disorientation, the fear, and the chaos that the world braved during the beginning of the pandemic.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult was a very moving and timely novel. I had read some advanced reviews about what this book was about but they were not able to prepare me for how reading Wish You Were Here was going to affect me. Jodi Picoult was able to capture all the underlying fears, warnings, precautions, attitudes, compliance and non-compliance to the threat of Covid-19 as it overtook and cast its ugly face upon the world. Her extensive research was masterful. She captured the essence of Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult was a very moving and timely novel. I had read some advanced reviews about what this book was about but they were not able to prepare me for how reading Wish You Were Here was going to affect me. Jodi Picoult was able to capture all the underlying fears, warnings, precautions, attitudes, compliance and non-compliance to the threat of Covid-19 as it overtook and cast its ugly face upon the world. Her extensive research was masterful. She captured the essence of the bewilderment, terror, stress, pure exhaustion and the determination to not let the virus win that the members of the health care community faced. The challenges of living in quarantine, excessive hand washing, securing time slots for food delivery, the process of wiping down and washing everything that would be touched, gathering mail and delaying its opening, mask wearing, overcrowded hospitals and the exorbitant amount of patients put on ventilators only to die were all present throughout. All those things and more was what made this book so believable. Jodi Picoult captured those moments of crisis so many of us faced and also the resilience that so many exhibited to be able to navigate their way through the pandemic. Wish You Were Here was well written and so memorable. Diana O’Toole was an almost thirty year old woman that was living her life according to her plan. She was an associate specialist at the well known and renowned Sotherby’s. Diana had high aspirations to climb the corporate ladder in the art field at Sotherby’s and secure a prominent position. Her private life was equally satisfying. Her long term boyfriend, Finn, was a surgical resident at a prominent New York hospital. Their futures were promising and together they contemplated an engagement and eventually marriage and a home in nearby Westchester County. Diana and Finn had saved for and meticulously planned a vacation to the Galapoaos Islands that would occur just before Diana’s thirty birthday. Diana even suspected that Finn would finally propose to her there and of course she would say yes. Just at that time, Covid-19 had made its way to New York City. Diana noticed how empty the streets were and how few people were out and about. As Diana traveled around the city by subway, the day before her and Finn’s vacation, she noticed how deserted the subway stations and cars were. When Diana got home, she was not prepared for what Finn was about to tell her. Finn’s role at the hospital had been redefined. All doctors, residents and medical staff were required to be available to treat the onslaught of patients that arrived at the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19. Finn would not be able to go to the Galápagos Islands but insisted that Diana go by herself. He wanted her to be out of the city and somewhere safe where she would not get the virus. Reluctantly, Diana finally gave in and traveled to Galapagos alone. As soon as Diana arrived at the airport on Galapagos, she was greeted with the information that her luggage was lost. She decided to take the ferry to Isabela where she and Finn had booked a room at one of the hotels. Just as the ferry docked, Diana was given the choice to return to the mainland. Isabela was under quarantine and almost everything was shut down. For some unknown reason, Diana decided to stay. She was about to find out that the hotel where she had a reservation was shut down. Diana had no luggage and nowhere to stay. Abuela, one of the women that cleaned the hotel took pity on her. Through hand gestures and the little bit of Spanish Diana could muster, she asked Abuela if she knew anyplace where she could stay. Abuela took Diana under her wing and offered her a place to stay. It was also almost impossible to get a message to Finn. The Wi-Fi on the island was almost nonexistent. As time passed on the island, Diana discovered its hidden treasures and beauty and was trusted with Beatriz’s secret and the special bond she formed with Gabriel. Diana began to wonder if this was the life she was meant to live rather than the one that waited for her back home in New York. In Jodi Picoult’s author’s note, she conveyed the idea where she got the idea for writing this book. “Several months into the pandemic I stumbled across an article about a Japanese man who got stranded in Machu Picchu during COVID. He was trapped there due to travel restrictions and, out of necessity, stopped being a tourist and became a resident of the community. That was Jodi Picoult’s spring board for writing Wish You Were Here. In my opinion, I believe that this was one of her best novels to date if not her absolute best one. She gathered her research by interviewing medical professionals and survivors who had been on ventilators. Even though I lived through and am still living through the consequences, precautions and challenges of COVID-19 I was reminded of how this virus has changed our life as it was once was. Having two daughters and a son-in-law in the medical field, I was extremely cautious and still am as I always worried for their safety and health and mine. I devoured Wish You Were Here. The characters were so believable and memorable. I felt like I really knew them by the end of the book. It made me smile and even shed a few tears at parts of the story. I highly recommend this book. Publication is set for November 30, 2021. Thank you to Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine for giving me the opportunity to read this advanced copy of Wish We Were Here by Jodi Picoult through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Someone asked me whether people will still be reading this novel in fifty years. Yes, I think so. Jodi Picoult has given us a long and diverse library, but WISH YOU WERE HERE is special. It's not just a riveting, deeply moving, and impeccably researched novel: it chronicles an historic moment in time: March - May 2020, and the first months of the Covid19 pandemic. WISH YOU WERE HERE is the sort of book that helps define a novelist's legacy: it's that good and, yes, that important. Someone asked me whether people will still be reading this novel in fifty years. Yes, I think so. Jodi Picoult has given us a long and diverse library, but WISH YOU WERE HERE is special. It's not just a riveting, deeply moving, and impeccably researched novel: it chronicles an historic moment in time: March - May 2020, and the first months of the Covid19 pandemic. WISH YOU WERE HERE is the sort of book that helps define a novelist's legacy: it's that good and, yes, that important.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Erwin

    Wow!! Wish you were here is so GOOD!! Such an intense page turner!!! It was very hard to put down. I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading a book COVID related but Jodi Picoult did it perfectly. The letters from Finn describing handling COVID at the hospital were heartbreaking and so real. It was eye-opening! Jodi really did her research before writing this one. About halfway through the book, Jodi threw in a total shocker and it was so intense and so unexpected! This book kept me on the edge of Wow!! Wish you were here is so GOOD!! Such an intense page turner!!! It was very hard to put down. I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading a book COVID related but Jodi Picoult did it perfectly. The letters from Finn describing handling COVID at the hospital were heartbreaking and so real. It was eye-opening! Jodi really did her research before writing this one. About halfway through the book, Jodi threw in a total shocker and it was so intense and so unexpected! This book kept me on the edge of my seat. A fantastic book! Thank you Net Galley and Ballantine for an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    Review posted to blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Cue the tears. Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult: A novel I thought I was prepared for.. and it kicked me in the gut anyways. In ways I never imagined possible. Covid. This novel centers around Covid and it’s as real as it gets. If this book is on your to-be-read shelf, prepare yourself...it’s gonna be a tough one. In addition, prepare yourself for the fact that it's also NOTHING like you think it’s going to be. Emotional Heartbreak. D Review posted to blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Cue the tears. Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult: A novel I thought I was prepared for.. and it kicked me in the gut anyways. In ways I never imagined possible. Covid. This novel centers around Covid and it’s as real as it gets. If this book is on your to-be-read shelf, prepare yourself...it’s gonna be a tough one. In addition, prepare yourself for the fact that it's also NOTHING like you think it’s going to be. Emotional Heartbreak. Devastation. Shock and Awe. Self-Discovery. Introspection. Love. When Covid strikes, Diana and her boyfriend Finn are preparing for a trip to the Galápagos. Finn is a physician at a hospital and given the situation, needs to stay. Not having any idea how bad it’s going to get, Finn urges Diana to go on her own, and so she does. It’s a world away. Lockdown and quarantine occur. Upon her arrival in the Galápagos, Diana is isolated, without internet and the ability to go anywhere, while Finn is facing Covid every day and trying to keep patients alive. He emails her often, and though she receives them, she is unable to reply due to spotty internet. His haunting portrayal of life, treating patients is heartbreaking and so very realistic. Tears filled my eyes and streamed down my face, knowing everything he was writing happened in real life all across the world and continues to do so. Diana, on the other hand, lives a very different life, on an island knowing hardly any Spanish, having access to very little, and meeting only a handful of people, some of whom have a major impact on her. Diana and Finn’s lives couldn’t be more different and yet each one is compelling, moving, and stirring in their own right. It is here that my heart was torn asunder in more ways than one. I have no words for it and cannot say more without giving away spoilers. Shock, Bewilderment, Heartbreak. This novel is raw, honest, heart-wrenching and so brilliantly done. Through many tears, I read this and at times felt wholly shattered and can only applaud Jodi Picoult for what she accomplished here. This was a buddy read with Ms. Kaceey and it impacted both of us greatly. Kaceey - thank you for reading this with me. Let me just say that I know how hard this was for you to read. I can’t thank you enough for everything you do each day. You are my hero. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House - Ballantine Publishing Group, and Jodi Picoult for this incredible read. Published on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    3.5 stars, rounded up This story tackles COVID straight on. It’s March, 2020. Diana and Finn are due to go on a vacation to the Galápagos Islands. But Finn, a surgical resident at a NYC hospital, is told all vacations are canceled. Diana goes alone. When she arrives, she doesn’t quite get what is happening, that everything is shutting down and she should turn around and leave. She gets trapped on an island with no open hotels or restaurants, hardly any WiFi access, little money and not speaking S 3.5 stars, rounded up This story tackles COVID straight on. It’s March, 2020. Diana and Finn are due to go on a vacation to the Galápagos Islands. But Finn, a surgical resident at a NYC hospital, is told all vacations are canceled. Diana goes alone. When she arrives, she doesn’t quite get what is happening, that everything is shutting down and she should turn around and leave. She gets trapped on an island with no open hotels or restaurants, hardly any WiFi access, little money and not speaking Spanish. She meets a family who speak English and, slowly, befriends them. Diana uses her time away to start to reflect on her life and what truly has meaning in it. As always, Picoult’s characters felt real. I especially appreciated her depictions of what the doctors and nurses were going through, as represented by Finn and his associates. The book almost felt like it was too soon to read. It took me back to that dreadful time, when we were all trying to suss out what was happening, what to do. For some people, especially those that lost loved ones to COVID, I would advise caution. I like that Picoult always teaches you something. I enjoyed learning about Toulouse Lautrec and different artistic movements. (I also wasted a lot of time trying to see if the painting in the story was real.) There are some very deep themes here about what is reality, trying to plan your life instead of live it and what is important. I really appreciated The Author’s Note and what led her to write this book. This wasn’t my favorite Jodi Picoult novel by any stretch, but I appreciated the message she conveyed. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ScrappyMags

    Capturing COVID… ⏰ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Diana O’Toole is the proverbial New York “has it all” girl: amazing job, dedicated boyfriend, a wondrous, goal-oriented life planned out in pristine perfect detail. Until she doesn’t have anything. COVID interrupts and Diana is separated from it all - stranded on the Galápagos Islands where the virus has shuttered the island. Diana makes due, makes a few friends, adapts to her new life, and in the process questions every one of her life choices… 💡𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: Capturing COVID… ⏰ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Diana O’Toole is the proverbial New York “has it all” girl: amazing job, dedicated boyfriend, a wondrous, goal-oriented life planned out in pristine perfect detail. Until she doesn’t have anything. COVID interrupts and Diana is separated from it all - stranded on the Galápagos Islands where the virus has shuttered the island. Diana makes due, makes a few friends, adapts to her new life, and in the process questions every one of her life choices… 💡𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: Picoult has done an astonishing job of recreating what COVID has been like for many. Reading the author notes - she focuses on the word “isolation.” The weird thing is for me? I don’t relate to most people’s experiences during the past few years. I spent 2014-2019 out of work as a teacher with a mysterious illness. I returned to work full time in 2020 after diagnoses (5 chronic health conditions)- yup, smack dab in the middle of COVID. I was isolated BEFORE COVID and then again during. I’m single and self-supporting. I may have been the only person who DIDN’T feel the sting of shutdown as badly as others, but more like an old friend had returned -the one you politely let in but secretly wish would leave after 2 days? That’s COVID isolation for me. Picoult opens up our collected experience of strange we’ve all managed, coped with, and wrestled with the past 2 years. And man, she nails it. Who hasn’t considered changes or been forced to make them? Who hasn’t looked at their partner during COVID and thought, “Should I be with this you?” Darn you Picoult - you’re making us all ADMIT it! This book is one that rattled my brain, made me think deeply about the past 2 years and realize how lucky I am that my family made it through unscathed. My illness shored up my resolution to be an amazing teacher and I fought like hell to get back to the classroom. COVID was just another hurdle in my long race. Many of my colleagues have faced opposite decisions and realized they were done teaching. We all share the EXPERIENCE, and for that I applaud Picoult because she absolutely captures a unique time in our history where we all shifted our foundations and questioned what the heck we are doing with our lives. 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝗺𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄𝘀 𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗦𝗰𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆𝗠𝗮𝗴𝘀.𝗰𝗼𝗺 𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. 📚𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Contemporary Fiction 😍𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: All the book clubs HAVE to discuss this. For all the readers… 🙅‍♀️ 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: If COVID is too raw for you it might feel “too soon.” Thank you to the author, NetGalley and Random House Ballantine for my advanced copy in exchange for my always-honest review and for making me analyze and think - like a good teacher should. 😉

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    Jodi Picoult delivers some elaborate research and captures raw feelings in this global realization. We have loved, lost, feared, and gained a real understanding of the important things in our lives, readjusted our focus and revamped the workforce and our definition of heroes. No one will ever be the same as generations before us warned, but we continue to persevere through a lockdown, isolation and resilience. This book shares a fictional story of a young couple Finn & Diana planning their tropi Jodi Picoult delivers some elaborate research and captures raw feelings in this global realization. We have loved, lost, feared, and gained a real understanding of the important things in our lives, readjusted our focus and revamped the workforce and our definition of heroes. No one will ever be the same as generations before us warned, but we continue to persevere through a lockdown, isolation and resilience. This book shares a fictional story of a young couple Finn & Diana planning their tropical vacation on the Galapagos Islands when the pandemic hits. Finn is a surgical resident needed at the hospital in New York and explains to her instead of them losing their money on the trip that Diana, an art broker, to continue without him. Heartbroken and discouraged, she continues her journey. With a few setbacks, her luggage lost and hotel closures, a kind family allows her to stay in their empty apartment. While she is enjoying the scenery on this volcanic island, Finn is desperately trying to save lives. While she swims with the marine life, turtles, sea lions, and penguins, he swims in ventilators, gloves, masks and doom from every angle. Her guilt is catapulted into no internet connections, no phone service, no ATM's, no flights out and no grocery stores available. Any other time she would have welcomed the inconveniences, but not as the world turns in a different direction. She relies on the kindness of others to help her through and takes a step back to realize her life may be heading a different path than before. Sadly, raw emotions of Finn are captured as emails seep through with clear visuals of his anguish and experiences trying to keep people alive. As a mother of three health care workers and a husband, who fights diligently once again to ward off this curse, this hit home. This book is not to be taken lightly as some of the experiences are real and the after effects are lingering, but she is genuine and sincere. She leaves us with a real glimpse in how it affected her and how the book came to fruition. The twist at the end opened my eyes to a whole realm of emotions and from there I was definitely nose diving until the end. This is a real piece of work and while I have read many of her books and lost touch with the author, she awakened a whole new game of respect and desire to read more from this talented writer. Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 stars In the Author's Note at the end of this book Jodi Picoult, who has asthma, describes her reaction to the Covid lockdown. She says, "I was at home, paralyzed with fear. I couldn't breathe well on a good day; I couldn't even imagine what Covid would do to my lungs.....I couldn't distract myself with my work. I couldn't write. I couldn't even read." When Picoult eventually broke her slump she decided to write a book to chronicle the pandemic: "To tell the tale of how the world shut down, a 3.5 stars In the Author's Note at the end of this book Jodi Picoult, who has asthma, describes her reaction to the Covid lockdown. She says, "I was at home, paralyzed with fear. I couldn't breathe well on a good day; I couldn't even imagine what Covid would do to my lungs.....I couldn't distract myself with my work. I couldn't write. I couldn't even read." When Picoult eventually broke her slump she decided to write a book to chronicle the pandemic: "To tell the tale of how the world shut down, and why, and what we learned." This is the book Jodi penned. Author Jodi Picoult ***** The story opens in March 2020, just before the coronavirus shuts down the world. Diana O'Toole - an art specialist at Sotheby's..... .....and her boyfriend Finn Colson - a surgical resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital, are about to embark on a trip to the Galápagos Islands, where Diana expects Finn to propose. Diana and Finn, who seem to be perfectly matched, have a long-term life plan that includes travel, marriage, children, excelling in their careers, having a beautiful home, etc. On the eve of Diana and Finn's departure for the Galápagos, Covid patients start flooding the hospitals. Finn tells Diana he has to stay and tend to the sick, but suggests that Diana go on the trip anyway, since it's non-refundable. Diana agrees and travels to the Galápagos by herself - a journey that involves several planes, a ferry, and a water taxi. Diana arrives at her destination, Isabela Island, just as it's shutting down for two weeks because of the pandemic. Diana is dismayed to learn she can't leave the island and her hotel is closed. To top it off, Diana's luggage is lost and she can't communicate with the local people, who speak Spanish. A kindly older woman, who calls herself Abuela, offers Diana a tiny apartment and Diana settles in as best she can. After some missteps - including a bad experience with toxic apples - Diana becomes friendly with a former tour guide named Gabriel..... .....and Gabriel's troubled teenage daughter Beatriz, both of whom speak English. Diana is desperate to communicate with Finn, but it's very difficult. There's minimal Wi-Fi and phone calls don't go through. When Finn's emails do arrive they're filled with descriptions of people dying; his exhaustion; his fear of getting sick; the horrible situation in New York; etc. Diana feels terrible for Finn, but she's in one of the most beautiful environments in the world, and she does some touristy things. Diana goes swimming in lagoons; walks around to look at the tortoises, iguanas, flamingos, penguins, sea lions, and other animals; enjoys the beautiful plants; and so on. Abuela provides some delicious home-cooked meals; former tour guide Gabriel shows Diana his favorite spots on the island; and even teenage Beatrix warms up to Diana a bit. It turns out both Diana and Beatriz have absentee mothers: Diana's mother was a world-famous photographer who traveled constantly and Beatriz's mother deserted the family. As the two-week mark approaches, when the shutdown of Isabela Island is scheduled to end, Diana prepares to return to New York and Finn. However, the island closes indefinitely, and Diana is trapped for the foreseeable future. The book explores the loneliness and isolation experienced by people in the midst of the pandemic - what they learn about themselves, and how it changes them. For me, the situation of Finn and the other hospital workers is especially affecting since it highlights the plight of healthcare workers (including cleaners) who - before the vaccine was available - were in constant peril. In current times, the predicament of healthcare personnel REALLY highlights the selfishness of people who refuse to get vaccinated. Refuseniks get sick and expect hospital staff to care for them. It's inexcusable. Even if healthcare workers are vaccinated, they can get breakthrough infections. As I'm writing this review the Omicron variant is running rampant, largely because unvaccinated people serve as incubators for the virus. The book provides a close look at people affected by the Covid pandemic, and it's not a pretty picture. Thus I wouldn't recommend the novel to people sensitive about the subject. Thanks to Netgalley, Jodi Picoult, and Ballantine Books for a copy of the book. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    3.5 stars Diana O’Tool and her boyfriend Finn are preparing for a romantic getaway to the Galapagos Islands. Diana has been working hard claiming the ranks in the cutthroat art auction world. Finn is a surgical resident whose future is promising. The night before they are set to leave on their dream trip, Finn tells Diana to go without him. There go her dreams of a proposal on their getaway. Finn just can't leave, there is a virus out there and everyone is needed at the hospital. So, Diana goes, 3.5 stars Diana O’Tool and her boyfriend Finn are preparing for a romantic getaway to the Galapagos Islands. Diana has been working hard claiming the ranks in the cutthroat art auction world. Finn is a surgical resident whose future is promising. The night before they are set to leave on their dream trip, Finn tells Diana to go without him. There go her dreams of a proposal on their getaway. Finn just can't leave, there is a virus out there and everyone is needed at the hospital. So, Diana goes, she doesn't turn back when she is told that the island is quarantined for two weeks. She can't stay at the hotel they book but finds a room with a woman and quickly makes friends. While there she begins to question her choices, her life, and her relationships. This book is set during the beginning of the pandemic and shows what doctors were up against. The character Finn writes to Dianna and tells her about the struggles and how hospitals are doing the best they can with what they know and how the treatment protocol changed constantly. When I came to a certain section of the book I was stunned. Put it in the I did not see that coming camp. This book will hit close to home for many. Writing about something that we are all still experiencing was courageous. Some may find it difficult to read this book while others will devour it. Jodi Picoult is a reliable and prolific writer. One can count on her to deliver and add the personal touch. She doesn't shy away from tough subjects and did her research in writing this book. She captured the uncertainty, the disbelief, and the shock of the beginning of the pandemic. This is a great book for book clubs as there is a lot to discuss in this book. Not sure what I think of the ending but overall found this to be enjoyable and a worthwhile read. Thank you to Random House Publishing group - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

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