I’ve read a few of Jodi Picoult’s books, and I think this is one of her best. Diana an art dealer turning 30 who has the rest of her life planned, or at least she thinks so until the COVID-19 pandemic strikes, and her boyfriend Finn, a resident at a New York City hospital, is unable to accompany her on their long anticipated trip to the Galapagos islands. Diana believes he was about to pop the question on their vacation, but she agrees to go by herself when he convinces her it would be safer. That decision turns out to be unwise because, once on the island which is locked down, she has no way to return and can’t contact Finn because of weak and unstable WiFi. The hotel she booked is closed, and her bags were lost on her flight. Luckily, she’s befriended by a woman who allows her to stay in part of her house. She later learns the apartment belongs to a man with a teenage daughter in need of help.
After Diana meets the man, Gabriel, a previous tour guide, and his daughter, and spends time with them and the island residents, she attempts to contact Finn and her mother, who suffers from Alzheimers and is in a nursing home. She reaches them, but the connection is short and erratic.
With detailed descriptions of the wildlife and habitats of the Galapagos including an inactive volcano, this absorbing story comes to life. As Diana becomes emotionally attached to Gabriel and the island, her perspective about life begins to change.
About midway in the book, there’s a twist I didn’t see coming. Picoult realistically portrayed several serious themes including mental illness, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Her author notes at the back of the book also gave insight into how she was inspired to write it and her own experience during the pandemic. I highly recommend this read that Picoult’s fans will gobble up and new readers will find totally absorbing.
This review was from the NetGalley ARC. The book will be released on November 30, 2021.