This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.
Diana and her boyfriend, Finn, are planning a dream vacation to the Galapagos, but their plans are sidelined when COVID hits New York right before they leave. Finn, a surgical resident, has to stay, but he insists Diana take the trip. She makes it to the island just as the world shuts down. Stranded for months, she gets only spotty updates about the horrors Finn and others are facing as the virus ravages thousands. On the island, she forms a bond with a teen girl, her father, and her grandmother–one that has her rethinking the entire course of her life.
I’ve seen many readers say that it’s too soon for a COVID novel, but I think Picoult’s comes at just the right time. It’s not the story you think it is, and it succeeds in bringing close so many different aspects of this virus. It’s exactly the empathy-building book we need right now and I loved it.
Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Gal�pagos–days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time. But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes. Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders. In the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself–and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.