This is one of those books where I started doubting if the whole wolf allegory would mess up the storytelling ... But it was an essential part of the whole reading experience. Amazing piece by Picoult. Full review coming soon!
Originally posted on my blog Guiltless Reading
Jodi Picoult's powerful stories are not new to me. So when I saw that her latest novel Lone Wolf was up for grabs in Goodreads, I didn't think twice. And so I was among the lucky ones who got an Advanced Reader Copy!
My thoughts: The story revolves around a man who was in an accident, lying comatose in the hospital. That man is Luke Warren, a passionate zoologist, who had put his "human" life on hold and went to live among the wolves in the wild. He had returned to an alienated wife and two kids, Edward and Cara. Georgie divorced Luke and made a new life for herself, marrying a lawyer and starting a new family. Cara stayed on with her father. Edward fled the country, and his family.
Now faced with medical decisions needing to be made, Edward, the prodigal son, returns at the request of his mother. Seventeen-year-old Cara, figured in the same accident as her father, but escaped with only minor injuries.
The story revolves around the difficult decisions that family members must wrestle with, in their lives together, and their future together. The already strained dynamics of a family in crisis becomes a legal battle as each one believes they know what's best in the interest of Luke Warren. Moral and legal questions come to fore: Who should make critical medical decisions - someone who is legally of age, or who knows that person's wishes better? Who determines when to cut off life support? What if the patient wants to donate their organs?
The book's chapters shift with the characters, with first-person viewpoints, making for very interesting reading. You''ll hear it from Georgie, Cara, Edward, and from Luke himself. You'll notice this through the change in font type (which I must point out is quite annoying to read), the tone of voice, and simply the whole difference in perspectives.
The story comes to a dramatic and tragic close, with family members coming out better for the experience.
Ok, so now for the wolf part. The title intrigued me. The cover looked rather literal, but I figured it would have a metaphorical treatment. I was pleasantly surprised that the use of wolves was both literal and metaphorical. And that is what I feel has made this book stand apart. Jodi Picoult based her story on a true story, that of renowned wolf researcher Shaun Ellis, also known as the Wolfman. His research has fed into Luke Warren's accounts of his life with wolves, from the science-y side as well as from the vulnerable human side.
I have been asked many times what made me choose this path in life. I think part of it was that animals have always been straight with me, but humans haven’t. But the other part is that I don’t take no for an answer very easily.
- p. 60 (page may change), ARC of Lone Wolf
Picoult has a tender way of drawing parallelisms between wolves and humans - insights about family, loyalty, and other distinctly traits we come to think as human - which made me wonder at how complicated we've made our lives.
There's an honesty to the wolf world that is liberating. There's no diplomacy, no decorum. You tell your enemy you hate him; you show your admiration by confessing the truth. That directness doesn't work with humans, who are masters of subterfuge. Does this dress make me look fat? Do you really love me? Do you miss me? When a person asks this, she really doesn't want to now the real answer. She wants you to lie to her. After two years of living with wolves. I had forgotten how many lies it takes to build a relationship.
- p. 342-343 (pages may change), ARC of Lone Wolf
I learned so much about humanity through wolves. Quite amazing to accomplish through a book!
Verdict: Amazing piece by Picoult. Beautiful, powerful storytelling about family life. Be prepared for the insights about wolf life; the whole wolf allegory is essential part of the whole reading experience.