Published: October 20th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga
Happy Publication Day to my favourite author!
Thank you to the Tandem Collective for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted ARC.
Jodi Picoult’s stunning new novel about life, death, and missed opportunities.
Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?
Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.
But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.
Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.
As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: what does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?
Two possible futures. One impossible choice.
“My calendar is full of dead people… At one point, they were my clients. Now, they’re my stories to keep.”
Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and any book she releases is one I highly anticipate. So when Tandem announced a readalong of her new book I jumped at the chance to take part. It wasn’t only that it was a JP book that had me excited, it was the inclusion of Egyptology, as I have always been fascinated in ancient Egypt and looked forward to seeing how that was included in the book.
“Even people who don’t know much about Egyptology have heard of the Book of the Dead… It’s a New Kingdom collection of spells to help the deceased make his or her easy to the afterlife —but it evolved from earlier, lesser known funerary texts… Also part of these Coffin Texts is the Book of Two Ways, the first known map of the afterlife.”
The story begins when Dawn Edelstein is travelling on a plane that is about to make a planned emergency landing. As she prepares to land, she doesn’t see the face of her husband Brian or their daughter Meret, the person she sees in what could be her final moments is Wyatt, the man she left behind in Egypt fifteen years ago. What follows is a story of the two paths her life could have taken following a heated argument with Brian about their marriage that mirrors the two paths that can be taken to the afterlife in the titular Book of Two Ways.
For the first time in almost two decades of reading this author, I DNF’d one of her books. This book has been a bit of a marmite book throughout the book community but like my thoughts about the controversial condiment, I’m ambiguous about this one. I didn’t stop reading it because of bad writing or not liking the story, I stopped reading because the book heavily focuses on the subject of death and I found it too traumatic to keep reading after losing one of my best friends suddenly earlier this year.
“I think what really shocked me is how many people can’t see the shape of the life they’ve lived until they get to the very end of it.”
Overall, I liked the idea for this book and the concept of showing the two different paths Dawn’s life could take. As always with JP’s books, the story is well researched and there were many fascinating facts I learned about Egypt, ancient Egypt and death. But at times I felt like it got bogged down in academia, which took away from my enjoyment of the story and it felt a bit like reading a textbook.
This isn’t a lighthearted read and it is definitely one you have to be in the right frame of mind for. I wasn’t. It’s too soon for me. But I will go back and read the remaining third of this book at a later date as I was enjoying the story and characters and liked the format the story took. As with the layout of her last book, A Spark of Light, I don’t think everyone will like this. But I like that she takes these risks in both how and what she writes. It’s why she’s my favourite author.
*I’m not rating this book at the present time as I feel my judgement would be clouded by my grief. I will rate it at a later date when I finish the final part of the book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Jodi Picoult is the #1 bestselling author of twenty-five novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Storyteller, Leaving Time, the acclaimed #1 bestseller, Small Great Things, which explored the issues of power, privilege and race, and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Picoult’s most recent novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT., published on October 2, 2018, was her tenth consecutive instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and was praised as “Picoult at her fearless best” by the Washington Post.
Picoult’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four novels – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls – have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a film released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring. SMALL GREAT THINGS has been optioned for motion picture adaptation by Amblin Entertainment and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Picoult’s two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical entitled Between The Lines which had its world premiere in September 2017 at the Kansas City Repertory Theater and is expected to premiere Off-Broadway in Summer 2019.
Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven.
Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is also a member of the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.
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