Monday, February 6, 2012

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Lone WolfLone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads: A life hanging in the balance…a family torn apart. The #1 internationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult tells an unforgettable story about family, love, and letting go. 

Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara. 

With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision? 

Lone Wolf explores the notion of family, and the love, protection and strength it’s meant to offer. But what if the hope that should sustain it, is the very thing that pulls it apart? Another tour de force from Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf examines the wild and lonely terrain upon which love battles reason.

My take: I'm going to admit a shocking fact and I might be judged here. Love me, anyway. I have already read two Jodi Picoult books and I did not love them. In fact, I marginally tolerated them, although the subject matter had merit. Maybe it was the state of mind I was in at the time but whenever someone mentions a book by Picoult, I am underwhelmed.

Now I feel bad. The five stars is not overcompensating. It's a story that is complex and provides much introspection. And it kind of hurt my heart but not in a bad way. I sound a little oxi-moronic, don't I.

The story begins with Cara at the scene of an accident. She's hurt and she's just pulled her father from the wreckage of his truck. The ambulance arrives and she is aware of the severity of his injuries. They are both hospitalized and Cara's mother, Georgie, is called.

Georgie is living with her new husband, Joe, and their twins. She immediately calls her son, Cara's brother who is in Thailand, to come home. He jumps on the first plane and rushes to the hospital. Luke, Cara's and Edward's father, has suffered a severe brain injury and is on a ventilator and feeding tube. Georgie is no longer married to Luke. Edward is over the age of 18 but estranged from his father for reasons later explained while Cara is closest to her father but a minor and physically and emotionally a wreck. Who will be the spokesperson for Luke? That's one story line.

I think I want to make it clear right now that the ethical dilemma is not what strikes me as brilliance of the author. Euthanasia and the right to pull the plug or live in a vegetative state has been argued for decades. It is argued in a courtroom in the book. The real brilliance is the way Picoult tells the story through the different points of view. One moment and font it is Cara, then a different moment and font it is through Edward, then Georgie and so it goes. Each character offering a perspective that is equally compelling given the characters age and experience. Meanwhile, interspersed is Luke's story which foreshadows the next event.

Luke offers no commentary or perspective to the current battle. Luke is a fascinating creature in that he is a wolf biologist. He is so committed to the species that he insinuates himself into a captive pack of wolves and makes observations. To carry himself to the next level, he leaves his family for two years to live in the wild, insinuating himself into a wild pack of wolves or die trying. Obviously, he didn't die trying but he was gone for two years. I'll end the suspense. He enters a pack of wolves.

Wolves live by the rules of the pack. Each wolf holds a job within the pack. There is also protocol that must be followed down to the social strata of eating their prey. It is fascinating to read the behaviors and pack creed as Picoult researched this subject then simplified it for the reader to digest it. What I realized, about halfway through the book, was that Luke's diatribes and fascinating facts about the wolves were not random but mirroring his own family. It is subtle and can have many different interpretations but definitely present.

It's a book that leaves the reader digesting it for days afterward.

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