Having spent the last three hours crying, I’ve now finished The Book of Two Ways, Jodi Picoult’s 2020 gift to all of us. The premise of the book immediately drew me in: a plane is about to crash, and Dawn, the main character, does not thinking about her husband at home in Boston, and instead thinks of her ex-boyfriend from 15 years ago.
While that could be a premise for many stories, this book is filled with so many layers. I see this as a book that a lot of people will not finish. I did see some DNF (did not finish) reviews on Goodreads. It is textbook top-heavy, and easy to get lost. I found myself rereading paragraphs, trying to figure out why little bits of history were included. It was Picoult building her plot, painting the experiences that made her characters who they were. Now that I know Picoult’s son majored in Egyptology at Yale, it is clear that his experiences and insight are woven into the pages of this book.
Picoult tackles very controversial topics in her other books: the death penalty, stem cell research, designer babies, the right to die, wrongful birth, and school shootings. In TBOTW, the controversial topic is more subtle, and comes down to our personal choices. At the end, the main character Dawn, must make several very big choices, some for herself, and one for her client. No spoilers here, I’ll just say you have to stick with it to see what happens.
Despite starting out with a dramatic plane crash (what pilot doesn’t love that) – this book was a bit hard to get into for me. There were long explanations about Egyptology, quantum physics, how people die, and how we remember people. On one hand, you learn a lot. On another hand, it’s a heavy read, emotional at times. The first half of it, I had to push myself to read it, to get through it, as though it was an assigned book that I needed to finish for school. But gradually, the plot came together, and I started seeing where it was going, and then I couldn’t wait to see how it ended.
There is so much heartache in this book, but it is thought-provoking. TBOTW will make you think about the decisions you made, how fleeting our days are, and why you should live life to the fullest with no regrets.