When I started reading Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, Lone Wolf, I at first found it quite difficult to relate to the characters. For the story revolves around a character who is larger than life, a man who is so close to nature that he once spent two years living with a wolf pack in Quebec. As a full (though man-shaped) member of the pack. However as is always the case with Jodi Picoult’s writing, you cannot help but be drawn into the story and such is her way with words that I was hooked after a few chapters.
The story is told through the eyes of four (at times six) characters, which seems disjointed but works out surprisingly well for the narrative. There is Luke Warren, wildlife specialist, who is in a coma after a terrible car accident. His part of the story is not at all about his current situation (of which he is presumably unaware) but about how he lived with wolves, and how wolves see the world. Luke’s wife Georgie, son Edward and daughter Cara are the other main characters. The plot centres on Edward and Cara’s relationship with each other and with Luke, for Edward left the family six years ago and has only just returned from Thailand, while Cara stayed and watched as Luke and Georgie’s marriage dissolved around her. Cara blames Edward for her situation, and Georgie blames Luke, and Edward blames … well, Edward doesn’t know where to turn.
Bringing these characters to Luke’s hospital bedside they are faced with the decision we all hope we never have to make: should they turn off Luke’s life support and donate his organs so that others may live? Luke’s chances of recovery are almost, but not quite, none, and Edward is next of kin. But Edward and Cara do not see eye-to-eye on this matter and to make matters worse Cara is still a minor so has no say in the decision. The terrible tragedy of Luke’s situation aside, Cara and Edward nearly engineer another personal tragedy when they come close to destroying what is left of their own family relationships. Through this all, Luke’s voice comes through in the form of recollections about wolves, wolf families, and wolf philosophy which increasingly mirror the situation the family finds itself in.
Once again, Jodi Picoult has painted a very distinct picture of humanity in a very difficult situation. She forces you, the reader, to examine your own motivations, your own responses, and form your own judgement as to how you would manage the same situation. It is confronting to say the least, but you will come out with a new insight into yourself, and perhaps into your own family, after reading.
Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$32.99