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Lone Wolf (Picoult)

Lone Wolf
Jodi Pioult, 2012
Simon & Schuster
432 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781439102749 


Summary
A life hanging in the balance...a family torn apart. The #1 internationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult tells an unforgettable story about family secrets, love, and letting go.

In the wild, when a wolf knows its time is over, when it knows it is of no more use to its pack, it may sometimes choose to slip away. Dying apart from its family, it stays proud and true to its nature. Humans aren’t so lucky.

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?

Another tour de force by Picoult, Lone Wolf brilliantly describes the nature of a family: the love, protection, and strength it can offer—and the price we might have to pay for those gifts. What happens when the hope that should sustain a family is the very thing tearing it apart? (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—May 19, 1966
Where—Long Island, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Princeton University; M.A., Harvard University
Currently—lives in Hanover, New Hampshire


Jodi Picoult received an A.B. in creative writing from Princeton and a master's degree in education from Harvard. The recipient of the 2003 New England Book Award for her entire body of work, she is the author of fourteen novels, including The Tenth Circle, Vanishing Acts, and My Sister's Keeper, for which she received the American Library Association's Margaret Alexander Edwards Award. Recently, she penned several issues of Wonder Woman for DC Comics. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. (From the publisher.)

More
Born on Long Island, New York, Jodi Picoult was convinced that the tranquil, suburban setting offered no real inspiration to her for being a writer. There was no drama; just the daily grind of families living their lives. Eventually, though, the story of this challenge became the core of Picoult's bestselling novels.

Picoult studied creative writing at Princeton, and before she graduated, she had two short stories published in Seventeen magazine. This early success inspired Picoult to devote her life to writing. After college, she paid the bills with a series of copywriting and editing jobs, and she even taught eighth grade English. Marriage and children soon followed, and while she was pregnant with her first child, she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale, a remarkable tale told from five different points of view that heralded a bold new voice in fiction.

In subsequent novels, Picoult has mined the complex mysteries of everyday life: love, marriage, career, family. Faced with difficult, often painful moral choices, her characters struggle to find balance in an off-kilter world fraught with danger and shattered by terrible sociological ills like domestic violence, sexual abuse, and teen suicide. Though page-turners of the highest order, Picoult's stories avoid easy solutions and provoke thoughtful reading and animated discussion. Unsurprisingly, they are a favorite choice for book clubs.

From her web site, Picoult talks about the relationship between her family and her writing. "It took me a while to find the balance," Picoult says, "but I'm a better mother because I have my writing ... and I'm a better writer because of the experiences I've had as a parent that continually remind me how far we are willing to go for the people we love the most."

Extras
From a 2004 Barnes & Noble interview and her website:

• She has gone skydiving and says, and says "I'd do it again—if I didn't have kids."

• Picoult and her family own two Jersey calves, named Decalf and Coffee.

• Before becoming a novelist, Picoult worked at a two-person ad agency, where her main responsibility was "to keep the owner's wife from finding out he was sleeping with the freelance art director."

• If she could invite anyone, living or dead, to a dinner party, Picoult's guest list would include Ernest Hemingway, Alice Hoffman, William Shakespeare, Mel Gibson, and Emeril Lagasse.

• Other than writing, other talents of Picoult's include making Linzer tortes and broccoli soup, and childbirth. "I'm awfully good at giving birth—quickly, no drugs, etc.—though that definitely has a limited appeal," she quips.

When asked what book influenced her most, this is what she said:

Gone With The Wind. I read it when I was twelve —I was a total dork, and memorized huge sweeping dialogues I could act out as both Scarlett and Rhett. But what stuck with me was the way Margaret Mitchell managed to create an entire world out of words. I thought, "I want to do that." (Author bio and interview from Barnes & Noble.)

Novels
Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992)
Harvesting the Heart (1993)
Picture Perfect (1995)
The Pact (1998)
Keeping Faith (1999)
Plain Truth (2000)
Salem Falls (2001)
Perfect Match (2002)
Second Glance (2003)
My Sister's Keeper (2004)
Vanishing Acts (2005)
The Tenth Circle (2006)
Nineteen Minutes (2007)
Change of Heart (2008)
Handle With Care (2009)
House Rules (2010)
Sing You Home (2011)
Lone Wolf (2012)
The Storyteller (2013)
Leaving Time (2014) (Bibliograhphy from Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
Picoult tackles this sensitive subject with her usual flawless research and convincing characters ... as is Picoult's signature style, the reader is left just as torn as the characters over the best solution. Thought-provoking and gripping.
SHE


Jodi Picoult takes a controversial and provocative subject and uses it as a backdrop to a touching and emotional drama. Her characters are believable and well drawn and the book is all the more powerful for it.
Sunday Express (UK)


You can always rely on Jodi Picoult to spin a riveting read around an issue of our times.
Good Housekeeping


Picoult returns with two provocative questions: can a human join a wolf pack, and who has the right to make end-of-life decisions? Luke Warren, a vital free spirit, has devoted himself to understanding wolf behavior, to the point of having once abandoned his family to live with wolves. Now divorced and raising his 17-year-old daughter, Cara, near his wolf compound, Luke sustains a traumatic brain injury in an accident. His ex-wife, Georgie, remarried to a lawyer, summons Cara’s brother, Edward, from Thailand, where he’s lived for years alienated from his family, who assume the estrangement stems from his father’s rejection of Edward’s homosexuality. Cara wants to keep her father on life support; Edward struggles with resentment but believes his father wouldn’t want to exist in a vegetative state. As Cara and Edward navigate their own conflicts and Luke languishes in a coma, Picoult folds in mesmerizing excerpts of Luke’s book about life with the wolves. There are no surprises, as Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper) as usual probes intriguing matters of the heart while introducing her fans to subjects they might not otherwise explore. You can always count on Picoult for a terrific page-turner about a compelling subject.
Publishers Weekly


Luke Warren has spent decades learning the inner workings of wolf packs. Yet his relationship with his own family is strained. Divorced from his wife and estranged from his son, Edward, Luke remains close to his daughter, Cara. When the two are involved in a car accident that leaves Luke in a coma, Edward must return home to make important medical decisions regarding life-sustaining measures. With facts that aren't always clear and emotional baggage getting in the way, Cara and Edward find themselves on opposite sides regarding what is best for their father. Verdict: Picoult (Sing You Home) once again has written a compelling story involving current issues and family drama with a unique twist. The inclusion of Luke's relationship with wolves adds an element of depth, and details like these are why readers find Picoult's books impossible to put down. Her many fans won't be disappointed. —Madeline Solien, Deerfield P.L., IL
Library Journal


The thoroughly researched wolf lore is fascinating; the rest of the story is a more conventional soap opera of hospital, and later courtroom histrionics. Readers will care less about Luke's prospects for survival than they will about the outcome for his wild companions.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. Edward and Cara strongly disagree over whether to keep Luke on life support. Which character did you think was most likely to know Luke’s wishes? Did your opinion change over the course of the novel?

2. What emotions, such as guilt and anger, influence Edward and Cara’s decisions about how to handle their father’s coma? In your opinion, how much weight should the paper Luke signed before he went to Canada have carried? Should Cara’s age have prevented her from being next-of-kin?

3. Cara sees her father as a hero whereas to Edward he is all too human. Why was Cara so much closer to her father than Edward was? Did this portrayal of a family’s dynamic remind you of any relationships in your own life?

4. At the scene of the accident, an EMT tells Cara that if it wasn’t for her, her father might not be alive. She thinks: “Later, I will wonder if that comment is the reason I did everything I did…Because I know her words couldn’t be farther from the truth.” (p. 8) When you learn what Cara means, does it justify her actions, including accusing her brother of attempted murder? If she hadn’t felt such guilt, do you think she would have been less opposed to ending her father’s life? Why or why not?

5. What motivates Edward to arrange for the termination of his father’s life after Cara says, “I can’t do this. I just want it to be over.”? (p. 143) Why does he overlook her earlier objections? How did you react to the scene in which Edward pulls the plug on the ventilator?

6. Luke is the most enigmatic character in the book—a man in a coma, a man torn between the wolf and human world. How do his chapters balance what you learn about him from the other characters? How would the novel and your understanding of Luke and his relationship with wolves have been different without those chapters?

7. Georgie knows Luke is unusual from the moment she meets him, and she’s attracted to his rawness and vigor. Was it fair of Georgie to expect Luke to live a conventional life? Was it unfair of Luke to expect Georgie to sacrifice her own hopes?

8. Luke seems torn between his love for his wolf family and for his human family; and ultimately his human family suffers. Do you think he loved his wolves more, as Edward believed? Do you think he ever could have found a happy medium between the two worlds?

9. Consider the role each member of the Warren family plays in the family unit both before and after the family dissolves. How does the family compare to a wolf pack, where “everyone has a position in it; everyone’s expected to pull his own weight.”? (p. 14) Do you think the Warrens know and understood each other as well as the wolves seem to know each other? Is there one person to blame for the family’s break-up? What could the family have done differently to prevent the collapse?

10. Discuss the Warrens’ family issues that have long gone unspoken or misunderstood, such as Edward’s reason for leaving. What other issues have the Warren family avoided? What were the repercussions of doing so? How would you characterize the way they relate?

11. Why do you think Edward kept his reason for leaving a secret for so long? When he reveals the truth in court, how do Cara and Georgie react? Do his revelations about Luke have a bearing on the hearing?

12. Georgie says of her children, “You may never admit it out loud, but the one you love the most is the one who needs you more desperately than his siblings.” (p. 271) Do you agree? Discuss why and how she favors each of her children at different points in the novel. How does it affect her relationship with Joe to be on the other side of the aisle during the hearing?

13. The moment when Luke opens his eyes and seems to follow Cara is a compelling one, but Dr. Saint-Clare explains that it is merely a reflex. Did you agree with Cara’s perception or the doctor’s? Did it change how you felt about Luke’s chances?

14. Picoult writes: “Hope and reality lie in inverse proportions inside the walls of a hospital.” (p. 70) How do Cara, Georgie, and Edward’s experiences give truth to this statement? Did Dr. Saint-Clare’s testimony affect your belief in the kind of medical miracles Cara hoped for?

15. Ultimately, both the advocate and the judge reach the same conclusions about whether Luke would want to live or die. After reading the chapters from Luke’s point of view, what do you think he would have wanted? In a situation such as this, can there be an answer that is wholly right or wholly wrong? Discuss.
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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