Wish you were here by Jodi Picoult is at its core a heartwarming love story, but this is a story like no other wrapped as it is around the Covid-19 pandemic.
Diana has her future all mapped out, but when there are whispers of a virus threatening the world her holiday plans change. She decides to still travel to the Galapagos Islands, but alone as her boyfriend Finn is a resident surgeon and the city of New York is bracing for a rise in Covid-19 cases.
She arrives at the island but it’s also shutting down and she finds herself stranded. Before long though she meets a kind woman, Abuela, who takes her in and soon she meets her son Gabriel and his troubled daughter Beatriz too. Without much opportunity to communicate with the outside world, her updates are limited to emails received from Finn.
They tell a sad tale of how rapidly Covid-19 has overrun the city and how the hospitals are battling to cope against a disease they don’t know much about. It’s a raw account of the real way in which the pandemic tore through the world, ripping loved ones away from their friends and families. But it’s in this brutality that we can also discover the bravery and kindness of our front-line workers who worked so tirelessly to help in those early months. For some who have lost so much it may be too soon to read about this time, the memories may be too fresh still and the bruises not yet faded.
For me it was a reminder of just how far we have come and gave me courage that things are changing and that we can still hope for a brighter future. The juxtaposition between the virus spiraling out of control in New York City and the isolated freedom on the island is well done, and the many questions we have found ourselves asking about this virus over the past months were spot on.
I loved meeting Diana, she is a multi-faceted character to get to know through her memories, her friendships and love, her troubled relationship with her mother and even as a mentor. Picoult had my heart beating fast towards the end, longing for the ending I so wanted to discover.
Thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.