“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!