Wish You Were Here

Jodi Picoult’s latest novel is set in New York City during the early days of the covid virus. Diana O’Toole, an art consultant, has plans to travel to the Galapagos with Finn, her doctor boyfriend. When his vacation is postponed, and he is forced to remain behind, due to the surge in virus cases, he urges her to go without him. Diana makes it to the island just as everything is shutting down, and decides to stay. She befriends some locals, who find her a place to stay and feed her. Diana has no internet service, though, so she sends postcards through the mail to try and reach Finn. She winds up staying on the island for two months, before she is able to return home. By then, Diana has experienced a change in thinking about life and her career path, and experiences a major shock upon returning home. I enjoyed this very much, even though it revisits the terrible impact of covid upon New York City. The twist at the end was a great touch.

Seven Perfect Things

The novel follows the path of several protagonists: Elliott, a forty-something man who lost his loving wife recently; Abby, a very responsible 13 year old girl with an abusive father, and Mary, her mother. When Abby sees an adult throw a sack of something moving in the nearby river, she dives in and rescues seven adorable puppies. The shelter is full, so she finds a nearby empty shed to house them temporarily. It just so happens to be on property owned by Elliott. Caring for the puppies soothes Abby’s battered spirit, and she finds a kind soul in Elliott. This is a great read; while it deals with abuse, it balances the dark with the light, and proves that people are capable of change. I intend to read more by Catherine Ryan Hyde…

Surviving Savannah

Patti Callahan has written a remarkable narrative based on the true story of the sinking of the steamship Pulaski, which sailed from Savannah on June 14th of 1883, on its way to Baltimore. After a boiler explosion during the night, the passengers were forced to save themselves from the wreckage and the waves, as two of the lifeboats had rotted away and the remaining two were hardly enough to carry the roughly 200 passengers and crew to safety. Callahan based her main characters, the Longstreet and Forsyth families, on the real life Lamar family that sailed on the steamship on that eventful day. The novel moves smoothly between present day, where researcher Emily Winthrop is creating a museum display of artifacts recovered from the ship, and the past, with the exploits of the strong women endeavoring to survive the aftermath of the sinking. Interesting enough, after the original recovery of the wreckage in 2018, the stern of the steamship was found this past August, where divers hope to find more gold coins and jewelry.

After the End

So today marks 10 years since we first began our library blog. I chose to re-read one of my favorite authors, Claire Mackintosh over the Christmas break. It’s been long enough that I had forgotten what happens. Pip and Max Adams’ 3 year old son Dylan has terminal brain cancer and is paralyzed from the neck down, on pain medication, with a very poor quality of life. His mother, Pip, wants to let him die, not wanting to prolong a life of suffering. His father, Max, has heard of proton beam therapy in Texas that could prolong Dylan’s life and possibly offer him more options. The hospital recommends palliative care until Dylan dies. So a court case ensues, and both sides of the argument are presented. It’s a good read — really makes you think about what you would do…

The Reading List

Mukesh Patel has lost his wife to cancer, and is understandably depressed. But when he decides to return a book his wife was reading to the local library, his life begins to change. With the help of a librarian, Aleisha, who finds a reading list someone has left behind, Mukesh slowly learns how to connect with his young granddaughter, and regain his joy at life. This novel was a wonderful read: it reinforces the power that libraries have to bring communities together, and also the immense power of the written word to change lives. It’s a keeper; every library should own a copy. Kudos to Sara Nisha Adams for a marvelous debut novel.