by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is a fearless author who writes novels that address social concerns. Last year’s A Spark of Light was about abortion and the book before that, Small Great Things, was about race and privilege. Now, Ms. Picoult takes on what I think is a huge challenge, to write about death, life and the choices that we make. Readers should be aware that, as the story unfolds, there are many, many facts about ancient Egypt, death rites, physics and more.
This is the story of Dawn. Is she named Dawn because of the symbolism of a new day with its new beginning? Could be as each day she has choices to make.
The story begins with Dawn being given the chance to change her life after having been in a plane crash. Instead of going home, given the chance to go any where that she wants, Dawn goes back to Egypt. Egypt is where, in an earlier stage of her life, Dawn was a Ph.D. student and working on excavations. In her Egyptian existence, Dawn was very involved with fellow student Wyatt.
Dawn had left the dig when her mother became ill. This led her to meet Brian, whom she marries, and to her work as a death doula. Readers learn that a death doula serves a similar function to a birth doula; the doula is there to help the client with whatever they need. In this story, readers get to know one such client, Win, very well.
Dawn lives two lives over the course of the book. In one she is in Egypt, while in the other she is in Boston. What existence is the right one for her? Will they converge? How do we each live a meaningful life and also come to experience death? There are the huge questions contained in this novel.
The title of this book carries several meanings. There are two ways that Dawn could live her life. There is also literally a Book of Two Ways, a book that guided the ancient Egyptians at death.
If you are a fan of Ms. Picoult and/or if you are ready to take on some big themes and are happy to have your read interspersed with facts on an academic level, this could be the book for you. I found that this novel made me think. It made me care about the characters so I believe that Ms. Picoult has done it again. She has written that “big” novel.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.