Book Club Pick: Lone Wolf

“The night after I went into the wolf enclosure for the first time I woke up to find my father sitting on the edge of my bed, watching me. His face was outlined with moonlight. ‘When I was in the wild, I was chased by a bear. I was sure I was going to die. I didn’t think there could be anything more terrifying,’ he said. ‘I was wrong.’ He reached out one hand and tucked my hair behind my ear. ‘The scariest thing in the world is thinking that someone you love is going to die.'” – Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf

I completely understand why so many of Jodi Picoult’s fans–myself included–refer to themselves as members of the “Jodi Pi-cult.” Lone Wolf, Picoult’s latest best-selling work now available as a beautiful paperback, is an unassumingly brilliant exploration of a family-in-crisis suddenly faced with an impossible question: if someone you love has been gravely injured with essentially no chance of recovery, do you artificially prolong their life or artificially induce their death? It should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Picoult’s impressive body of work that she handles such a complex issue with grace, humour and compassion, but what did surprise me was how exactly she did so. In Lone Wolf, Picoult explores a new family dymanic: that of wolf packs, and (pardon the pun) it makes for a howling good read.

Luke Warren has spent his life researching wolves. He has written about them, studied their habits intensively, and even lived with them for extended periods of time. In many ways, Luke understands wolf dynamics better than those of his own family. His wife, Georgie, has left him, finally giving up on their lonely marriage. His son, Edward, twenty-four, fled six years ago, leaving behind a shattered relationship with his father. Edward understands that some things cannot be fixed, though memories of his domineering father still inflict pain. Then comes a frantic phone call: Luke has been gravely injured in a car accident with Edward’s younger sister, Cara.

Suddenly everything changes: Edward must return home to face the father he walked out on at age eighteen. He and Cara have to decide their father’s fate together. Though there’s no easy answer, questions abound: What secrets have Edward and his sister kept from each other? What hidden motives inform their need to let their father die . . . or to try to keep him alive? What would Luke himself want? How can any family member make such a decision in the face of guilt, pain, or both? And most importantly, to what extent have they all forgotten what a wolf never forgets: that each member of a pack needs the others, and that sometimes survival means sacrifice?

What I admire and respect the most about Picoult’s writing is her ability to take challenging moral issues and frame them within an addictive, page-turning story. I personally don’t think she’s ever done this better than she has with Lone Wolf: each chapter is narrated by a different character, making the story as rich and dynamic as the wolves that remain at its heart. There’s so much to talk about in Lone Wolf, and as such Simon & Schuster has prepared a handy Reader’s Group Guide to help get discussion rolling. I have some questions of my own as well, please feel free to use them within your own book club or to leave an answer in the comment section below!

  • What did you think of Picoult’s use of different narrators? Are there any chapters that you think would be interested in reading from a different point of view? How well do you think the font choices reflected the characters’ voices?
  • What would you do in Edward’s situation? Cara’s?
  • Do you feel any different about wolves having read this book?
  • What do you think lay at the heart of the Warren family’s problems? Is there any relation to the roles found in wolf packs?

Happy reading everyone!

Read an excerpt.
Explore Jodi’s website.
Read about the fascinating research Jodi did on wolves and the real life Luke Warren.
Last but not least: win up to ten copies of Lone Wolf for your book club!

Book Club Pick: A Stolen Life

“I feel that whatever I choose to do with my life, I know one thing, and that is I must not be afraid to live.” – Jaycee Dugard, A Stolen Life

I had heard of Jaycee Dugard before I picked up a copy of her powerful memoir and, in all honesty, I didn’t know if I could handle reading her firsthand account of my own worst nightmare. I asked a friend to read it with me, and it made a world of difference. Dugard’s voice is true, dignified, and an inspiration; her story may have broken my heart, but it also made me honestly believe–without any trace of irony–in the strength and resilience of the human spirit. I was glad to have a friend that I could share my experience of reading A Stolen Life with, as Dugard’s story is one that requires processing and, if you’re like me, a hug or two after you reach the last page. This is a story that needs to be talked about, and as such it’s our Book Club pick for this week.

When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old, she was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Philip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer, he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behaviour raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garrido’s home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.

A Stolen Life is Jaycee’s firsthand account of her experiences, beginning with the time of her abduction in 1991 up until the present. She alone wrote her story, and the result is a raw, intimate narrative that rocked me to my core while also inspiring me spread Jaycee’s ultimately hopeful and inspiring message: care for each other. Her voice sounds out from every word on the page, especially in the journal entries she includes from her early years of captivity; be warned, they are heartbreaking. I am in awe of this woman, who has taken control of her life and lives with love and hope, rather than with rage and hatred for the people who stole her from the street and the system that repeatedly failed her. You and your book club may want to discuss Jaycee’s attitude in regards to forgiving the Garridos, as I know this was a difficult topic for me.

Jaycee is an amazing human being, and her story deserves to be read. The best way I can think of to end this post is by referring to the motto of the JAYC Foundation, Jaycee’s charitable organization that helps facilitate support and services for families recovering from traumatic experiences and in need of healing: Just Ask Yourself to Care.

Watch a clip from Diane Sawyer’s interview with Jaycee Dugard. See more clips here.

Check out the Reading Group Guide for book clubs.

Browse through A Stolen Life.

Win up to 10 copies of A Stolen Life for your book club.

Learn more about The JAYC Foundation; you can even buy a pinecone to support Jaycee’s foundation.

Lisa Genova does it again

Lisa Genova’s third book Love Anthony came out last week and it is already a hit!

Check out the praise Lisa and the book have been receiving:

“I adored this book. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to see what Lisa has in store for us next.”—Daisy’s Book Journal

“Genova caught me from the opening chapters and held me rapt until I turned the last page. This is one that will be on my staff picks for a quite a while. (until I replace it with the fourth book Genova is working on.)”—A Bookworm’s World

“Finished in one evening, absolutely stupendous! !”—Serendipitous Readings

“Love Anthony boasts the same poignancy and depth as Genova’s previous works, and is an essential read, whether you live with autism in your daily life or not.”—Divine.ca

“I highly recommend this novel to everyone, regardless of whether or not you have an interest in disabilities, but in the process you will gain an interesting glimpse into the lives of people touched by Autism.”—Goodreads winner Josie

“Genova never ceases to amaze me with the complexities she explores in her novels – both with the human brain and human emotion. She writes with authority, but in an easy to read way, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the scientific jargon.”—Goodreads winner Krissy

“All people should read this story and open their eyes to the realities of children with Autism.”—Goodreads winner Patricia

“Lisa Genova brought up so many valid points, and did it in a way that wasn’t confrontational or negative.  Once again this is a book that will stay with the reader long after they turn the last page.  It is a wonderful book.  I recommend it to anyone who has been touched by autism in any way.” –Raising Positive Kids blog

“A tale of a mother’s loss and the journey to find herself, the latest offering from bestselling American novelist Lisa Genova is a gentle, meandering story punctuated by moments of stunning emotional brilliance.”– The Winnipeg Free Press

“I give a major tribute to the author who has brilliant writing and used her thorough research skills and drew upon her personal connection to autism to develop a superb novel. Lisa’s story gives an excellent portrayal of an autism parent’s experience and shows just how autism tends to shape and influence a person’s life experience.”—Wanda, YMC Bookalicious

And also take a look at the fabulous Q&A Lisa did for the Indigo.ca blog.
Lisa guest blogs on Autismspeaks.org. Read about the inspiration behind Love Anthony.

 And don’t forget, Lisa is coming to Canada for three events this month:

Toronto, Oct 5, 6:30pm Indigo Manulife Centre

Ottawa, Oct 6, 11am-12pm Costco Kanata

Vancouver, Oct 13, 2pm, Chapters Robson

Meet Lisa Genova!

We are extremely lucky to have author Lisa Genova in Canada for not one, not two, but THREE events. Lisa is the bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected. She is touring Canada to promote her new novel Love Anthony. See below for event details and info.

Meet Lisa Genova in Toronto
Friday, October 5, 2012
Indigo Manulife Centre
55 Bloor Street West
6:30pm

Meet Lisa Genova in Ottawa
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Costco Kanata
770 Silver Seven Rd
11am-12pm

Meet Lisa Genova in Vancouver
Saturday, October 13
Chapters Robson
788 Robson Street
2pm

Love Anthony explores the healing power of friendship between two women, each cast adrift by loss, as one woman begins in her fledgling writing, to give voice and meaning to the other’s autistic son.

Lisa talks about her new novel Love Anthony

Read an excerpt

Visit www.lisagenova.com

Do you love Philippa Gregory?

WE DO!

And right now, in celebration of the release of her newest novel The Kingmaker’s Daughter, we are hosting a Royal Reads sweepstakes. This is your chance to win a personalized copy of Philippa’s new novel, an entire library of her books, a tea basket complete with biscuits and china and other royal themed treats!

Click on the image below to enter

Visit www.philippagregory.ca for an extended excerpt, author videos and more.