Today I’m reviewing another audiobook, The Book of Two Ways, by the great Jodi Picoult, a stunning novel about the choices we make, the life we leave behind and second chances, beautifully narrated by Patti Murin. I was so impressed by the narrative that after listening, I read the ebook version.
From the blurb
Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw 15 years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.
Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients. But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.
After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: Return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways — the first known map of the afterlife.
As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this Earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?
‘My calendar is full of dead people’.
The first line of a novel novel pulls you in.
‘Brace, the flight attendants yell. Brace!
As we fall out of the sky, I wonder who will remember me.’
The first pages confirm your decision.
“Where do you need to go?”
Boston, I think. Home. But there’s something about the way she
phrases the question: need, instead of want; and another destination rises like steam in my mind.
I open my mouth, and I answer.
And the first chapter convinces you you’re about to read an epic novel and enjoy it to the very last page.
After a stunning beginning, in which the heroine is faced with her own death, instead of going home to her husband and daughter, she makes the snap decision to go back to the man and the life the left behind in Egypt, when she worked as an archaeologist over sixteen years earlier.
The rest of the novel is an engaging narration of Dawn’s emotional journey through her past, her present and the decisions she must make regarding her future.
It’s a powerful novel about complex universal themes such as life, death, love, marriage and parenting, and about the decisions we make and the people and possibilities we leave behind as a result. It’s also about second chances and the freedom we have to change our minds and our futures.
Dawn’s narrative wraps your thoughts as she takes you to Egypt and her life as an archaeologist, Boston, her family, the two men she loved, her daughter, her present job as a doula, and the decisions she must make, before it’s too late.
The Book of Two Ways is an unforgettable, emotional rollercoaster right up to the last agonising line. I can’t imagine any reader not loving this unique novel.