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Wish You Were Here
Cover of Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here
A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and The Book of Two Ways comes “a powerfully evocative story of resilience and the triumph of the human...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and The Book of Two Ways comes “a powerfully evocative story of resilience and the triumph of the human...
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  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and The Book of Two Ways comes “a powerfully evocative story of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six)
    Rights sold to Netflix for adaptation as a feature film • Named one of the best books of the year by She Reads
    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 an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. 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. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, 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.
    In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, 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.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover One

    March 13, 2020


    When I was six years old, I painted a corner of the sky. My father was working as a conservator, one of a handful restoring the zodiac ceiling on the main hall of Grand Central Terminal—an aqua sky strung with shimmering constellations. It was late, way past my bedtime, but my father took me to work because my mother—as usual—was not home.

    He helped me carefully climb the scaffolding, where I watched him working on a cleaned patch of the turquoise paint. I looked at the stars representing the smear of the Milky Way, the golden wings of Pegasus, Orion’s raised club, the twisted fish of Pisces. The original mural had been painted in 1913, my father told me. Roof leaks damaged the plaster, and in 1944, it had been replicated on panels that were attached to the arched ceiling. The original plan had been to remove the boards for restoration, but they contained asbestos, and so the conservators left them in place, and went to work with cotton swabs and cleaning solution, erasing decades of pollutants.

    They uncovered history. Signatures and inside jokes and notes left behind by the original artists were revealed, tucked in among the constellations. There were dates commemorating weddings, and the end of World War II. There were names of soldiers. The birth of twins was recorded near Gemini.

    An error had been made by the original artists, so that the painted zodiac was reversed from the way it would appear in the night sky. Instead of correcting it, though, my father was diligently reinforcing the error. That night, he was working on a small square of space, gilding stars. He had already painted over the tiny yellow dots with adhesive. He covered these with a piece of gold leaf, light as breath. Then he turned to me. “Diana,” he said, holding out his hand, and I climbed up in front of him, caged by the safety of his body. He handed me a brush to sweep over the foil, fixing it in place. He showed me how to gently rub at it with my thumb, so that the galaxy he’d created was all that remained.

    When all the work was finished, the conservators kept a small dark spot in the northwest corner of Grand Central Terminal, where the pale blue ceiling meets the marble wall. This nine-by-five-inch section was left that way intentionally. My father told me that conservators do that, in case historians need to study the original composition. The only way you can tell how far you’ve come is to know where you started.

    Every time I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think about my father. Of how we left that night, hand in hand, our palms glittering like we had stolen the stars.

    It is Friday the thirteenth, so I should know better. Getting from Sotheby’s, on the Upper East Side, to the Ansonia, on the Upper West Side, means taking the Q train to Times Square and then the 1 uptown, so I have to travel in the wrong direction before I start going in the right one.

    I hate going backward.

    Normally I would walk across Central Park, but I am wearing a new pair of shoes that are rubbing a blister on my heel, shoes I never would have worn if I’d known that I was going to be summoned by Kitomi Ito. So instead, I find myself on public transit. But something’s off, and it takes me a moment to figure out what.

    It’s quiet. Usually, I have to fight my way through tourists who are listening to someone singing for coins, or a violin quartet. Today, though, the atrium is empty.

    Last night Broadway theaters had shut down performances for a month, after an usher tested positive for Covid, out of an abundance of caution. That’s what Finn...

About the Author-

  • Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 27, 2021
    Picoult’s beguiling page-turner revisits the premise of two alternate worlds, as explored in 2020’s The Book of Two Ways, this time with the Covid-19 pandemic as a backdrop. It’s March 13, 2020, in New York City, the day after Broadway theaters shut down because of a new contagious virus. Diana O’Toole, an associate specialist with Sotheby’s, is on the verge of closing a career-changing deal and expecting her boyfriend, Finn, to propose. But Finn, a surgeon, has just been informed he cannot take their planned Galápagos Islands vacation because the hospital needs all hands on deck for the predicted inundation of virus-infected patients. One couldn’t ask for more opposite places: the isolated Pacific Ocean islands with native iguanas, prehistoric turtles, and exotic flora and fauna, and the grim world of packed ICU wards, staff burnout, and the debilitating reality of an onslaught of deaths that cannot be stopped or prevented. In the Galápagos, Diana befriends a teenage girl, begins an affair with the girl’s father, and second-guesses her conformist, status-oriented life plans. While a major plot twist feels both contrived and implausible, it serves to examine how catastrophes can strain the characters’ relationships while time apart can inspire complex soul-searching. As always, Picoult is eminently readable, though even the author’s fans will find some of this wanting.

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