Luke Warren would sleep in the dirt if it meant he could be under the stars. He lives by the laws of nature, and would surely want to die that way. But Luke is in a coma, and his family must make an unbearable decision. As tensions and secrets rise to the surface, the tragic accident which brought them back together against the odds could well tear Luke's family apart forever. They know Luke would not want to live like this. But how can they choose to let him die?
The May 2013 book to read for The New Book Club (@thenewbookclub), which I am a part of, was Jodi Picoult’s ‘Lone Wolf.’ Last month, we read YA novel ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ by Jenny Han, and I was glad when I discovered a completely different novel was chosen as the next book to read. Jodi Picoult is one of the big names when it comes to contemporary women’s fiction, and I’ve heard lots of people who are really enthusiastic about her work. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve never felt really drawn to her books. I read ‘The Pact’ a few months ago (which I thought was alright), and of course I’ve heard lots about the novel and the film ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’ Reading ‘Lone Wolf’ offered me a new chance to get acquainted with Jodi Picoult’s work and see whether I would perhaps be blown away this time.
‘Lone Wolf’ centres on the Warren family. Luke and Georgie had several good years together, in which they had two children: Edward and Cara. However, Luke is not your average person: he is incredibly passionate about wolves. In fact, so passionate that he decided to leave his family behind for two years to go and live in the wild with a pack of wolves. Now, a couple of years later, Georgie lives together with her second husband Joe and their two children, while Cara lives with her father and has developed a love for wolves, similar to Luke’s. However, when Cara and Luke are involved in a serious car crash, the world of the Warren’s is turned upside down. Cara gets out of the crash with some minor injuries, but Luke is declared brain dead and in a coma. The whole family, including Luke and Georgie’s son Edward who fled to Thailand when he was 18 for an unknown reason, is brought together again to not only make a crucial decision about Luke’s life, but about their own futures as well.
Jodi Picoult is known for her complex plots which usually include a big moral decision. This is a specific formula she uses in all her novels and one that seems to guarantee success. ‘Lone Wolf’ also has that big moral decision at its centre: Cara and Edward have to decide whether they want to end their father’s life or believe in a possible recovery. The concept of ‘family’, and all the misunderstandings and secrets that come with this, is explored alongside this moral dilemma. However, while the basis for this novel definitely includes some interesting aspects, I wasn’t drawn in by the plot or the main characters. Even after about a 100 pages, I still wasn’t convinced whether I wanted to keep on reading or not. A part of me wanted to find out what would happen to Luke, Edward and Cara, but another part of me simply didn’t really care.
It is clear Jodi Picoult did a lot of extensive research before writing this novel. A large part of the book consists of information on wolf packs and how they live, and this is then compared to humans. While I thought some of the wolf facts were definitely interesting, I thought the overall focus on wolves was too much. I would have liked the story better if that specific space had been used to develop some of the characters a bit more. I felt like I didn’t really got to know Cara, and I would have loved for Helen Bedd (the court-appointed guardian) to have played a bigger role. ‘Lone Wolf’ has a fascinating plotline, but the way it was eventually worked out disappointed me. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the Jodi Picoult book to convince me, and I’m curious to find out whether I will try one of her novels again soon and if so, what that experience will be like.