ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

My review today is of The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult. My thanks to Eleni Lawrence from Hodder for the proof copy of the book for review purposes. It will be published on 20th October in ebook and hardcover.

Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: what does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

This really was a book of two ways for me. I’ve loved some of Jodi Picoult’s books and was keen to read this one as the storyline really appealed to me and I was so intrigued by it.

Dawn is a death doula, which means she is there to do anything that helps a person to pass away. That doesn’t mean nursing, but pretty much everything else. But she had wanted a career in Egyptology and that was cut short by family events. A near-death experience sets her thinking about the other path her life could have taken.

This is not a Sliding Doors sort of story and we don’t see both possible lives as they would have played out, but it does bring forth the question of what would happen if we had taken that other path. Where would we be now? What would we be doing? I really liked that aspect of the story.

There were some very thoughtful and moving sections. Picoult has never shied away from moral and ethical dilemmas and putting her characters in provocative situations. The parts where Dawn talks about her experiences as a death doula often brought tears springing to my eyes. But I’m afraid I struggled with the parts where Egyptology is at the forefront and I’d have preferred there to be a lot less of it.

As always, the author has obviously done a lot of research and she’s produced something quite remarkable. As a whole it didn’t really work for me and I think the death doula storyline on its own could have made for a really compelling read, but there were segments that really drew me in, not just the doula parts but also Dawn’s family life and how the plane crash affects her.

The Book of Two Ways wasn’t quite what I was hoping for and I think it will divide readers, but nevertheless I still enjoyed the writing and much of the story.

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty five internationally bestselling novels, including MY SISTER’S KEEPER, HOUSE RULES and SMALL GREAT THINGS, and has also co-written two YA books with her daughter Samantha van Leer, BETWEEN THE LINES and OFF THE PAGE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her most recent adult novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT first published in the UK on 30th October 2018, and was a #1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.


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