27 March 2012
Book Review: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
His daughter Cara is praying for a miracle: she will fight everything and everyone to save her father's life.
His son Edward can't imagine that a man who once ran with wolves could ever be happy with a different life.
But Edward hasn't spoken to Luke for six years. How can he dare to speak on his father's behalf?
Somehow, they must choose:
Do they keep Luke alive?
Or do they let him go?"
I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult's books but for one reason or another, I haven't gotten around to reading her last few books just yet. When I was sent a review copy of her latest book, Lone Wolf, I was most definitely intrigued by both the title and the idea of the book that I decided it was time I read one of her books again. I'm not a person who is into nature or wolves especially, but the idea of children fighting over what's best for their ailing father sounded interesting, and I know Picoult always manages to write a wonderful drama into a story, and that I'd be guaranteed an amazing read. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed at all, and found myself totally engrossed in the world of Luke and his wolves that I really didn't want to put the book down, and even now, a week after finishing it I'm still thinking about it as well as the dilemma the book poses to its readers.
The book is based around the character of Luke Warren, a man who loves everything about wolves and decides to go and live with them in order to understand a wolf pack completely and utterly. He does this at the expense of his marriage to his ex-wife, and his relationship with his children Edward and Cara. Edward later runs off abroad to live, causing a further rift between the warring parents even more, and younger daughter Cara decides to go and live with her father and live the 'lone wolf' life as well. But when Luke is involved in a near fatal car accident along with Cara, it leaves his children at war as to what to do. Loyal Cara wants to keep Luke alive at any cost, even if there is no hope whereas Edward is trying to be more realistic and realises his father has no meaningful life ahead of him. But Cara is prepared to fight as long as it takes to keep her father with her, but at what cost?
What I found interesting about this book is the way that it is written. The action of the present day makes up the bulk of the book, with the story involving Edward and Cara, and their fight over their father. The chapters alternate between narrators, so we hear from the points of view of both of the siblings, as well as others including Edward's lawyer Joe (also his mum's new husband!), and Georgie, Luke's ex-wife and Cara and Edward's mother. Luke's chapters come as the form of a sort of diary narration, written about his life with the wolves, how he came to do the things he did and also his emotional take on everything around him. These pages were written in italics, separating them from the rest of the book, and the pages had a smudged, almost dirty look to them which made it feel more authentic, and I loved this attention to detail. All of the characters were so well written, you can sympathise with each of their plights, but for me my favourite by far was Luke. I was totally taken away into his wolf world when I was reading, from imagining how the wolves looked, to how he reacted to the frightening scenarios, Picoult writes so beautifully in these parts its almost hard to believe its fiction you're reading.
As well as Luke's tale of survival and living with wolves, there is of course the fight for Luke between Edward and Cara. Cara was written perfectly, a teenage girl who adores and idolises her father, and is unwilling to accept that there is no hope left for him anymore, and even those as a reader we can see that her father is truly gone, as a daughter myself, and a mother, I can understand her loyalty and despair at the idea of losing him for good. Edward on the other hand was harder to warm to, he almost didn't know his father but as the story progresses and things are revealed, your emotions are toyed with and I ended up empathising with him too, and understood his need to do what he believes his father would want. It's an interesting moral dilemma, and one which Picoult presents both sides of brilliantly, and writes so emotionally for all of the characters involved. There's a fair bit of medical jargon in there, enough to give you an idea of what's happening and to realise Picoult has really researched this, but its not too complicated that you won't understand a word! As usual, it climaxes in a court room drama but I felt this part was shorter than in previous novels, and I enjoyed the closing of the book very much.
Overall, this is a very emotional read that delves into the feelings of grief a child goes through at the loss of a parent, but also deals with other important issues such as the rights of children, especially minors, when decisions are made about someone's life or death. The wolf scenes however stole the show for me, and were an absolute joy to read, from Luke's raw emotions and feelings that were written, to the vivid descriptions of the world around him when he's living in the wilderness with the wolf pack, and how he interacts with these amazing animals. I found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning with this book as I couldn't put it down, and couldn't convince myself it was a good time to put it down and wait until morning to carry on reading! The writing style was incredibly easy to read, and the book flowed so well, even though it jumped around in times periods a lot, from Luke's narrative chapters, to Cara's childhood, Edward's childhood and then the present day also. However, all bases are covered and we're given a detailed and brilliant story that'll have you thinking and pondering for weeks and months to come. Simply brilliant. A must read.
You can buy Lone Wolf in hardback and as an eBook now!