Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 19 December 2011

Lone Wolf - Jodi Picoult


The arrival of a new Jodi Picoult novel is always a moment of intense excitement for any fan!

Lone Wolf tells the story of a family that has been broken apart, and is now brought back together through tragedy, leaving them with an impossible decision to make. Luke Warren has sustained brain injuries and is left in a coma after a car accident. On the one hand, his daughter Cara, also injured in the accident, is desperate for her father to come through, for him to live whatever it takes. But her older brother Edward, who disappeared one day and now lives in Thailand, hasn’t spoken to his father for six years, thinks Luke wouldn’t be satisfied to live a life that would be so altered from how it was, and so restricted compared to who he was before. Will they be granted a miracle, or will they have to let their father go? Should they remove the life support for their father, let him die, and allow his organs to be donated to help save others? Their mother Georgie is remarried but is by their side at the hospital, as the siblings maintain their different stances. Cara blames Edward’s leaving for the breakup of her parents’ marriage.

Luke has lived an unconventional existence to say the least, choosing to become close to wolves, not just observing their behaviour, but coming to see the wolf pack as his family, sleeping outdoors with them, eating with them, learning their rituals and mimicking their behaviour; in effect becoming one of them, to the detriment of his human family.

The novel is narrated in the first-person, and primarily from the different standpoints of all four family members, in alternate chapters. It’s a heart-rending tale of a broken family, and the baggage that they carry; blame, guilt, hurt, misunderstandings, and secrets. This is all portrayed and observed so well, as is Picoult’s great strength in her writing – telling insights into human behaviour and the huge dilemmas that a family can find themselves facing. The characters are flawed, they question their own actions and decisions, and we the reader can get inside their heads; we can sympathise with them, feel the emotions they are going through, and wonder how we would react in their position.

What the author does here though is move beyond human relationships with each other, to explore the closeness that man can feel with animals; it’s a fascinating portrayal of a man who has devoted his life to wolves. His involvement with wolves is depicted in sections throughout the book. There are many clever likenesses and parallels drawn between wolves and humans, and between aspects of the wolf pack and of the human family; the various roles within a pack and the roles human family members take on – as mentioned, this runs throughout the novel concurrent with the human relationships unfolding in the story. In all aspects, such as medical background and legal matters, again Picoult has done her research thoroughly, and the final outcome is uncertain until the end of the book.

This is an engaging and thought-provoking novel, which mixes sibling divisions, moral dilemma and an unusual subject matter – humans and wolves - and I am sure it will garner Jodi Picoult many new fans as well as delight the loyal old. 


5/5

Published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on February 28th 2012

9 comments:

  1. Jodi Picoult does a wonderful job at getting to the depth of family dynamics. Thanks for the review.
    Ann

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  2. Ann thanks for your comment, much appreciated. I think she really does get to the heart of the different relationships within a family too.

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  3. I would definitely like to read more of Jodi Picoult novels this coming year. Thanks for the review, I'll be looking out for this one! :)

    Kristy Nicole

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  4. Oh another new one to add to the list, I really must read the older ones I still have waiting on Mt TBR! I enjoyed your review, a little different from her norm maybe with wolves compared to humans. Adding it to my wishlist.

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  5. Kristy thanks for your comment, this is definitely one to read!

    LindyLouMac, I still have some older Picoult to read too. Thanks for your comment.

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  6. I'm a little afraid of her books...they all sound like I'll end up crying through half the book!!

    ♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

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  7. I had no idea she had another book out so soon. She writes ridiculously fast!

    Jodi Picoult's novels are a strange thing for me - I either fall head over heels in love with them (My Sister's Keeper, Handle With Care) or can't even finish them (The Pact, Salem Falls). The pattern seems to be that I like the medical ethics ones though, so maybe I'll give it a go when it comes out.

    Thanks for reviewing it - I'd never have known about it otherwise :)

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  8. Melissa they can be very moving/emotional but give one a try sometime. Plain Truth was the one I read first and I still really like that one.

    Hanna it's coming out very soon. Thanks very much for commenting and I'm glad my review helped highlight this one for you. I know many people who are huge fans and some who like some of her novels but not others.

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  9. I generally love all of Picoult's work, some more than others, but this really tanked. I started enthusiastically, but was happy to have it end. Two dimentional characters, that I didn't care about, though I did love her play on the attorneys name - Helen Bedd - that was the high spot.

    Marlene Detierro (Andean, Inc.)

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