Book Review: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. Reviewed by Monique Mulligan
Author: Jodi Picoult
Allen & Unwin RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
One life hanging in the balance, a family torn apart. A brother and sister need to decide whether to keep their father on life support, or to donate his organs.
To donate organs or not - that is a question many people ask themselves during their lifetime. Many make the decision, one way or another, but fail to make their wishes clear to their loved ones. At its most basic, this is what Lone Wolf is about - a father who made his wishes clear to one person, his son, but failed to communicate them to other family members.
When Edward tries to act on his father's wishes, his sister, Cara, is distraught. She wants to hold on to the hope that a miracle may manifest, that her father will live on. Her brother has not seen their father for six years - who is he to make this decision? As they question each others' motivations, they are forced also to question their notions of family and of themselves.
Once again, Picoult has explored an ethical and moral dilemma with her characteristic finesse and keen perception. Her characters are vividly real, as are the situations they find themselves in. Using her tried and proven formula, Picoult persuades the reader to consider alternative sides by presenting the story from multiple narrators - everyone has a say, even some of the minor characters - an effective device that adds depth to an already thought-provoking concept. Each perspective is presented as equally valid; each is equally compelling. As a reader, you are encouraged to reassess your own viewpoints, to 'just listen' and read sans prejudice.
The wolf allegory is interesting and at first, difficult to relate to, much as the character of Luke, the father who leaves his family to join a pack of wolves. It's hard to imagine a father doing that. However, Picoult's research on wolf behaviour is commendable, making this aspect of the book interesting in its own right. And, as the story weaves tighter, the allegorical link to Luke's own family becomes more apparent. The title "Lone Wolf" could relate to any of the lead characters. In their own way, they are all 'lone wolves' forging their way through life. Do they make their decisions as a pack - should they - or as a lone wolf?
A story about hope, anger, grief, love and relationships, Lone Wolf is realistic, compelling, moving and fascinating by turns. The more I read, the more I enjoyed it. The ending was more fitting than gut-wrenching; I felt at peace with the way things worked, despite the twists and turns that took place. Only one thing: the epilogue is a 'nice' touch, but I'm not sure that it was needed or added any more depth to the story, except maybe to justify Luke's behaviour.
Available from good bookstores and Allen & Unwin.
For information about registering for organ donation in Australia, click here.