Lone Wolf — Jodi Picoult
Scientist Luke Warren has eaten raw meat from a carcass alongside wolves, and even run with a pack in the wild, ultimately becoming a man who is a wolf at heart. But now he is in a coma and it is up to his daughter Cara, a strong-willed teenager, and his estranged son Edward to decide his fate.
As the child who is legally an adult, Edward technically has the power of health proxy, while Cara is only 17. And yet, Edward has been living in Thailand for the last six years, abruptly skipping out on his family after a mysterious altercation with his father. He only returns when his mother calls to tell him of his father’s situation. Upon his homecoming, he is faced with memories, a mother who has missed him dearly and a sister who has felt abandoned since the day he left, leaving her to deal with their parent’s divorce on her own.
While Edward harbors resentment toward his father, who left his family time and again to spend time with the wolves, he is overcome with the need to be the man of the family and do what he feels his father would have wanted. He also feels it is his duty to make sure Cara isn’t burdened with their father’s ultimate fate. Meanwhile, Cara is overcome with guilt. Luke had been driving Cara home from a party where she had been drinking when they got into the car accident that caused Luke’s head injury. But after Edward makes a decision without consulting his sister, she turns to the law in hopes she can wrest ultimate guardianship of her father away from her brother.
Like all of Picoult’s novels, the attention to real life detail makes it seem like nonfiction. During her research, she actually met a real life Luke Warren in the form of Shaun Ellis, a British man who lived with a wolf pack in the Rockies. The description on pack life was more complex than I ever realized. But of course the pulse of the story is in the lives of this fractured family wrestling with their own morality and mortality. How do we decide whether a loved one is to live or die?
I found myself thinking about life and death, drawing up a will and naming a health proxy — which I have yet to do. I even went so far as to ask my husband what he would want done in a similar circumstances. No one likes to talk about the what if’s, but “Lone Wolf” forces the reader to confront the reality of situations like this that Picoult has woven expertly into a work of fiction. No one wants tragedy in their lives, but things happen and it’s best to be prepared if disaster strikes.
I’m a Jodi Picoult fan, so of course I’m going to tell you to read it. Packed with images of wolf men and heartbreaking choices, “Lone Wolf” is a healthy read for the mind. It’s still in hardcover, but the paperback is due to come out in October. It can be found currently on Amazon for as low as $7.10.