REVIEWED BY AMANDA KEATS
A car accident has left Luke in a vegetative state in hospital and his daughter Cara recovering from surgery on her shoulder. Cara's mum Georgie wants to be there for her daughter but has the twins and her new husband waiting for her at home and as she is no longer married to Luke, she has no say when the doctors start talking about life-support and using extraordinary measures. At 17 years old, Cara is underage so the only person who can legally make any decisions is Edward, the son who left the country six years ago and hasn't spoken to his father since.
An author known for dealing with taboo subjects, Jodi Picoult has chosen to explore who should have the right to switch off life-support when the family is as fractured as this one. But of course, as this is Picoult, the conflicts don't stop there. Luke is not your average father, having spent a lot of his adult life infiltrating wolf packs in order to study their behaviour from the inside. Famous in his field and respected the world over for his results, Luke has developed his animal senses to the point where he often struggles with basic human interaction. He loves his family, but he loves the wolves just as much and feels incomplete with either of them. Georgie still blames her ex-husband for all his prolonged absences and obsession with the wolves and for all the time spent away from his family to be with them. Edward still can't bring himself to talk about what really happened the night he left without saying goodbye. Cara blames her brother's departure for the breakdown of her family and clings on to her dad as the only place she still feels at home.
Cara cannot let go and wants to keep her dad on life support as long as it takes – but is she too emotionally involved to really see what her father would want? Edward, on the other hand, wants to honour his father's wishes and let him go in peace – but is he still holding resentment from all those years ago and relishing the opportunity to have the last word?
The many issues of blame, resentment and conflicting love and loyalty will resonate with any reader. The book jumps perspectives as it moves between chapters, which some readers may find jarring. However, in this book it is essential. There is not meant to be just one protagonist to follow and empathise with - there are many. Picoult takes her reader on an emotional journey, explaining each person's perspective in order to properly show exactly why there is no right or wrong answer. She looks closely at what might happen if something horrendous were to happen to everyday people and what they might do when pushed to the brink. She rather bravely doesn't spell anything out for you either, choosing instead to let you come to your own conclusions about what is right.
In Lone Wolf, as in her many other novels, Picoult has dealt with a highly controversial issue with both courage and sensitivity. Lone Wolf is another fine example of her incredible storytelling, offering no easy answers, no simple ways out and no clue what is going to happen on the following page! She once again shows the joys and heartbreaks of everyday life and how every person – no matter how infallible, how flawed and how very human - has an opinion and has the right to be heard.
Once you start, you will struggle to put it down.