The book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Posted January 5, 2021 by elzaread in Book Review / 11 Comments

Title: The Book of Two Ways

Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: September 2020 
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback (Hodder & Stoughton)
Read: 05 January 2021
Content warning: Adult (sex, swearing, blasphemy)
Synopsis: Dawn Edelstein knows everything there is to know about dying. She specialises in helping her clients make peace with the end of their lives. But as she’s flying home from her latest case, she is forced to confront her own mortality for the first time.
Instead of seeing her brilliant quantum physicist husband and their beloved daughter flash before her eyes in what she assumes are her last moments, only one face is shockingly clear: Wyatt Armstrong.
Safely on the ground, Dawn now faces a desperate decision. Should she return to Boston, her family and the life she knows, or journey back to an Egyptian archaeological site she left over a decade earlier, reconnect with Wyatt, and finally finish her abandoned magnum opus, The Book of Two Ways?
As the story unfolds, Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly answered: What does a life well-lived look like? When we depart this earth, what do we leave behind of ourselves? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

Finally! A Jodi Picoult book with an ending that doesn’t blow your head off or rip your heart out right when you turn the last page. Maybe because it was a love story. 

“I once read that every story is a love story. Love of a person, a country, a way of life.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love those endings and the blowing of my mind and the ripping of my heart effect. You need that every once in a while and for that, Jodi Picoult is my drug of choice. 

Aaah choice, what a world within one word. Every choice leaves us with two paths. Two ways you may say (I didn’t intend for that poetic inspiration). There’s really no such thing as a right or a wrong choice. We don’t make decisions. Our decisions make us”.

I don’t know anything about science and most definitely nothing about Quantum Mechanics. The first time I’ve heard of Schrödinger’s cat was in The Big Bang Theory and I had no clue what that is about. 

In the world’s most famous thought experiment, physicist Erwin Schrödinger described how a cat in a box could be in an uncertain predicament. The peculiar rules of quantum theory meant that it could be both dead and alive, until the box was opened and the cat’s state measured.

That still doesn’t really make sense in my world, but the following does explain the cat’s state perfectly well in my world:

“If  Fate is the notion that you’re destined for a given outcome, based on who you are and what you were meant to do, then a quantum physicist has to say that’s bullshit, by definition. On the other hand, if Fate means the lack of free will – the idea that you have no control over which timeline you wind up in – then you’re just a pawn experiencing whatever the multiverse throws at you. In which case the chances of you winding up with him, or you winding up with me, are completely random.”

Neither do I know very much about Egyptology and The Book of Two Ways is also something new to me. This collection, was the first example of an Ancient Egyptian map of the underworld. The Book of Two Ways is a precursor to the New Kingdom books of the underworld as well as the book of the Dead, in which descriptions of the routes through the afterlife are a persistent theme. You can find the whole history on this book in Jodi Picoult’s version of The Book of Two Ways. Gosh, I love a good history lesson. 

The Book of Two Ways is a masterful blend between physics, Egyptology (strange mix I know, but it makes perfect sense), life, death and love that can jump multiverses. 

The book opens with Dawn Edelstein being harshly confronted with the life she now leads and the one she left behind 15 years ago. As she plummets to earth and literally crash-land, the book splits into two ways. Water/Boston and Land/Egypt. 

In both these ways, Dawn must face questions she’s never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

This was my first read for 2021 and I don’t think I could have chosen a better book to start a new year with. I don’t like all of Jodi Picoult’s books, but the ones that I do like, I love beyond words and they become life changing experiences and not just another book on the shelf.  This one will be one of them for a long time to come. 

“If your life span is decreasing every day, what are you doing now to appreciate what you have left? What gives your life meaning?”


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11 responses to “The book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

    • That's good to hear Laura! I've really enjoyed this book, but not everyone did. The one lady in our Book Club said there was too much Egyptian Background and it felt like a history lesson to her. I actually enjoyed that part!

      Let me know when you've read it, then we can compare notes!

    • It is rather different than her "usual" books and I loved it for that! Different strokes for different blokes, Helen! I can promise you there are books that you love that will not really catch my attention.

    • It's not an easy read, but what Jodi Picoult is! I've really enjoyed this one. If you get to reading it, let me know. Would love to chat!

  1. i was looking forward to this and then read a lot of negative reviews. I'm so glad I read yours because, I loved the sound of this based of your review. so glad it worked out well for you. Back on my list it goes.

    • Hi Diane! So glad to hear that. The ending is completely different than the "normal" Jodi Picoult shockers. I only realised when I turned the last page, that I was actually holding my breath.

      I saw there were quite a bit of negative reviews as well. I've noticed that the biggest critique is that she tried to cover too many themes. I didn't get that feeling at all and everything blended perfectly in my opinion.

      Let me know when you get to read it, would love to chat!

  2. Picoult can be a hit or miss, I feel. Glad you liked this one. Seems pretty interesting, esp. since I always wanted to know all about Schrödinger's cat!

    • Hi Lex! I agree completely, I also have a love/hate relationship with Jodi Picoult. But like I've said, the ones I love – I really really love!

      I could never understand Schrodinger's cat at all, but after this book, it just makes so much more sense.