Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lone Wolf Book Review

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

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In the wild, when a wolf knows its time is over, when it knows it is of no more use to its pack, it may sometimes choose to slip away. Dying apart from its family, it stays proud and true to its nature. Humans aren't so lucky.

Luke Warren has spent his life researching wolves. He has written about them, studied their habits intensively, and even lived with them for extended periods of time. In many ways, Luke understands wolf dynamics better than those of his own family. His wife, Georgie, has left him, finally giving up on their lonely marriage. His son, Edward, twenty-four, fled six years ago, leaving behind a shattered relationship with his father. Edward understands that some things cannot be fixed, though memories of his domineering father still inflict pain. Then comes a frantic phone call: Luke has been gravely injured in a car accident with Edward's younger sister, Cara.

Suddenly everything changes: Edward must return home to face the father he walked out on at age eighteen. He and Cara have to decide their father's fate together. Though there's no easy answer, questions abound: What secrets have Edward and his sister kept from each other? What hidden motives inform their need to let their father die...or to try to keep him alive? What would Luke himself want? How can any family member make such a decision in the face of guilt, pain, or both? And most importantly, to what extent have they all forgotten what a wolf never forgets: that each member of a pack needs the others, and that sometimes survival means sacrifice?

Another tour de force by Picoult, Lone Wolf brilliantly describes the nature of a family: the love, protection, and strength it can offer - and the price we might have to pay for those gifts. What happens when the hope that should sustain a family is the very thing tearing it apart?

Review by Brittany:

As a long time Picoult fan, I never doubt that I'm going to enjoy one of her books. They all have some kind of moral dilemma that really makes me wonder what I would do in the situation of the characters.

In this book, the moral dilemma focuses on quality of life and whether or not it is moral to pull the plug on someone's life support, without their consent. Two siblings are each trying to win the right to make the judgment call on their father's quality of life and what he might want.

One thing about this book that was a bit of a letdown for me was character development. Normally Picoult writes such clear, humanized characters that I feel like they are real people. I can relate to them and understand the struggles they have and the choices they make. This book didn't have that for me. The father, Luke, is learned about primarily through tales from when he lived with wolves in the woods in Canada. The other characters are learned about through flashbacks and their responses to Luke's condition, but none of them are particularly deep or likable.

The night that Luke and his daughter Cara get into the car accident that puts him in the hospital remains a bit of a mystery. The full events are not revealed until the end of the book, but the entire thing felt a bit anticlimactic. I think this is largely due to the fact that the characters were not well-developed and I didn't feel as invested because of it.

I will say that I was, as usual, impressed with the level of Picoult's research. Her books are always thorough and leave me feeling extremely overwhelmed by her sheer knowledge in any subject. The information she gives about wolves and the way that she can write about living with them without (probably) ever having done it herself is impressive and a trademark of this author.

Overall, the story is good because Picoult just knows how to write a good book. However, this is not a favorite of mine by her as I expect more character development in her novels.

Notable quotes:

It's a funny thing, how - no matter how much bigger I am than my mother - she is still the one holding me, instead of the other way around.

Mistakes are like the memories you hid in the attic: old love letters from relationships that tanked, photos of dead relatives, toys from a childhood you miss. Out of sight is out of mind, but somewhere deep inside you know they still exist.

It's just one more item on a long list of things I never expected.

When people say growing up can happen overnight, they're wrong. It can happen even faster, in an instant.

When you are the family fuckup, receiving credit is almost overwhelming.

"No matter what you do for someone - no matter if you feed him a bottle as a baby or curl up with him at night to keep him warm or give him food so he's not hungry - make one wrong move at the wrong moment, and you become someone unrecognizable."

When something upends the equilibrium - when one child needs you more than the others - that imbalance becomes a black hole. You may never admit it out loud, but the one you love the most is the one who needs you more desperately than his siblings.

Like a missing tooth, sometimes an absence is more noticeable than a presence...

Cara may thing I don't love her as much as I do her brother, but parents aren't the only ones who play favorites.

I feel like my marriage is a Venn diagram, and the only shared space between us right now is an awkward silence.

Can you really be mad at someone for doing something stupid if they truly, one hundred percent, thought they were doing what was right?

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