Jodi Picoult has done it again. Nothing well ever top her Leaving Time for me, but this one gets pretty close, because deep inside of me is a 4th Grader obsessed with Ancient Egypt longing to be free. The Book of Two Ways is definitely more women’s fiction-y than some of her other books, because of its emphasis on alternate timelines and relationships–but it’s packed like a textbook of information and I cried…multiple times.
Dawn is a death doula, someone who helps people transition to death, make final plans, grant final wishes, etc. At the beginning of the book, Dawn survives a plane crash and enters her own “book of two ways”–on one path, she goes back to Boston, to her husband and daughter and the marital tensions she was running away from. On another, she goes back to Egypt, where she worked as a graduate student studying ancient Egypt and falling for a man she hasn’t seen since she left to take care of her dying mother fifteen years ago. As we alternate between “land” and “water”, Dawn re-finds her love in a new tomb in Egypt and meets a new client, Win, who changes what she wants with her own life and getting her own answers. Of course, being a Jodi Picoult novel, there’s a twist towards the end, and the timelines get more crossed than you might imagine.
This book is SO heavy on information, but I weirdly loved it. Picoult DOES HER RESEARCH folks, and this book is one of the best examples of that so far. There’s Ancient Egypt, death meditations, hieroglyphics, alternative universe physics, plane crashes, brain surgery, and the like. I never thought I was the kind of person who cried about death–I feel like I have a healthy relationship with it and it doesn’t effect me that much–but wow, I cried a few times during this book. There is a memory of a dog death, and that made me curl up with my cat and sob into her fur for awhile, which I’m sure she appreciated. There’s romance and drama and Ancient Egyptian tombs and some great lines about what it means to fall in love and love someone for a long time. I found myself highlighting a lot! Dawn isn’t an inherently likeable character, which I love, but you are enraptured by her story, her relationships, and her interests. I loved the raw honesty of her relationship with her daughter Meret, and I know romance lovers are going to LOVE Wyatt Armstrong.
There’s so much this book has to offer and I can’t wait for more people to read it! I was so excited when I heard Picoult say she was writing a book about Ancient Egypt, and this book delivers!