Critics’ Corner: Book Review – “Wish You Were Here” by Jodi Picoult


Casey Creutz, Co-Editorial Director, Junior

Not many people can say that they wrote and published a New York Times bestseller during quarantine, but Jodi Picoult can! Wish You Were Here is the most recent publication by the famed author whose works include, My Sister’s Keeper and The Book of Two Ways. I knew nothing about this book about before going into it, but whatever I expected, it wasn’t this.

The book follows a woman, Diana O’Toole, on the cusp of 30 in the early weeks of the pandemic. It shows the passage of time from a regular day or night, and the early anticipation of something bad about to happen, to complete chaos and upheaval. The multiple characters are meticulously researched so that their voices sound authentic, as real people with real interests, jobs, and lives. I think we are all a little sick of people talking about how crazy the pandemic was and is, but it is validating in a way to read the candid experiences how other people made it through the early weeks of spring 2020.

Diana leaves for a vacation for two, alone, at the urging of her boyfriend, who is called to duty as a hospital resident at the last minute. One thing leads to another, and Diana ends up stuck in the Galapagos, on what was supposed to be a dream romantic vacation, and ends up relying on the kindness of a native family.

Her trip is eye-opening and leads her to question her life as she knows it. The voice of her boyfriend, a White American on the forefront of the chaos in New York City, and the voices of the natives in the Galapagos dealing with their own version of a “new” life provides a comparison of how the pandemic affected life across the world. The book also deals with concepts of time and reality and how altered they felt to many people living through a major world event.

Without giving too much away, this book contains plenty of surprises you won’t see coming, and it’s relatability is made subtle in the setting of a paradise-like, yet eerie Galapagos island. Even if you are, like me, tired of hearing about COVID-19, I would still recommend this book, as an entertaining story, with a strong main character.