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The Book of Two Ways


The Book of Two Ways

After Dawn Edelstein survives a horrific plane crash, she is offered a plane ticket to the destination of her choice. What does it mean when, instead of choosing Boston where her husband, Brian, and teenaged daughter, Meret, live, she blurts out “Egypt” where she worked as an Egyptologist 15 years ago and where her first love, Wyatt Armstrong, still works as an archaeologist?

“Ancient Egyptians believed that the first and most necessary ingredient in the universe was chaos. It could sweep you away, but it was also the place from which all things start anew.”

"My passion for reading is fueled by books such as this one because it allows me to experience and explore different subjects, ideas and life paths."

With the story alternating between two separate life paths --- one where she returns to Boston to be with her family and one where she travels to Egypt to discover old passions, both career- and relationship-wise --- Dawn has the unique chance to explore what might have been if she had made different choices. Just like the Egyptian dead were supposed to use one of the paths (land or water) drawn in “the first known map of the afterlife,” otherwise known as The Book of Two Ways, Dawn also must choose a path and stick with it; once you do so, there is no turning back. With the opportunity to seize a different path within her grasp, will she continue her current life or reclaim her old one?

“Love isn’t a perfect match…[so] who do you want with you, when your time runs out?”

As with all of Jodi Picoult’s previous novels, it’s obvious that she puts much time, thought and research into the lives and careers of each character, as well as the current topics. In her past works, we have learned about racism (SMALL GREAT THINGS), abortion (A SPARK OF LIGHT), organ donation (MY SISTER’S KEEPER), Asperger’s (HOUSE RULES), a school shooting (NINETEEN MINUTES), elephants (LEAVING TIME), and so much more. In her current release, she tackles death in the form of ancient Egyptian burials, the roles and experiences of a death doula, and what to consider when making meaningful end-of-life decisions.

“I believe that there are five things we need to say to people we love before they die… I forgive you. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. Goodbye. I tell them that they can interpret those prompts any way they like, and nothing will have been left unsaid.”

My passion for reading is fueled by books such as this one because it allows me to experience and explore different subjects, ideas and life paths. Picoult is a master at sharing her extensive research in an intelligent, immersive manner while also delving deep into human psyches and relationships.

Lastly, the distinctive structure of this novel was surprisingly complex and oh-so-satisfying. Picoult’s stories always encourage me to think, speculate, consider and think some more, and THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS is no different. I found it achingly beautiful and compelling from beginning to end.

Now it’s your turn. If you were presented with the chance to rethink your life’s choices, would you make any different decisions? If you were able to follow the path not taken, would you seize the opportunity to try it? If you’ve ever wondered about the “what ifs” --- what if I’d chosen a different education, career, spouse, location to live, etc. --- then this powerful book is for YOU!

Reviewed by Rebecca Wasniak on September 24, 2020

The Book of Two Ways
by Jodi Picoult

  • Publication Date: September 7, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 1984818376
  • ISBN-13: 9781984818379