The Book of Two Ways: A Novel
by Picoult Jodi
Hardcover- $20.49

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 10/31/20

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/05/20

  "Disappointing" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 11/08/20

The Book of Two Ways, Jodi Picoult, author; Patti Murin, narrator.
Dawn Edelstein is a Death Doula. Her job is to help guide the dying and their families through the process in order to make it less stressful and more manageable. She carries the burden so the family can let it go. She becomes a part of the family in the process, and she promises to do whatever they ask her to do, if possible, to make the situation easier for all of them, so they can bear the loss they must face.
As a student at Yale, Dawn studied Egyptology. While studying in Egypt, she met Wyatt Anderson. They were both researching “The Book of Two Ways”, found under the bodies in the ancient tombs. It outlined the paths of life and death and contained spells to guide the dead. This part of the book was often difficult as an audio, as many of the technical terms and words were hard to understand. I recommend the print version so that the pronunciation of strange words does not interfere with the reading of the book. Visually, it will be easier.
Wyatt and Dawn, both young and vying for the same recognition, compete and spar with each other. Then, somehow, they fall madly in love. They are like two sides of the same coin. When Dawn’s mother enters hospice, she must return home. She tells no one. She simply disappears. Wyatt cannot find her. Dawn is overwhelmed. She had not known that her mother was ill. There is no money for her to return to school and no one else to care for her minor brother, Kieran. She has to work. While her mother is in hospice, she meets Brian Edelstein, a Quantum Physicist, and they move in together. After the birth of their daughter, Meret, they marry. Fifteen years later, Dawn is one of only 36 survivors of a plane crash. The novel begins with the crash.
The novel’s timeline is confusing. As it progresses back and forth, Dawn’s life is revealed and the threads are often disjointed. At first, the reader learns a great deal about Egyptology as the author has obviously done extensive research. At times, the narrative is like a text book. Some of the information seems incomprehensible. Some of the words and hieroglyphics were too obscure and opaque for me. When Dawn’s life as a Death Doula is explained, the novel becomes clearer, although the job seems profoundly sad, even if it serves an admirable purpose.
Throughout the book, humor is injected into the dialogue, especially between Dawn and Wyatt. This takes some of the darkness from the novel, but it is, overall, depressing. Current social and political issues are introduced, including the author’s own personal political views when she indicates that Dawn wishes that Hillary was President. Because of Dawn’s sacrifice, Kieran was able to study medicine, although it doesn’t seem that enough time has passed. He is also gay. Meret was larger than most children her age and has been bullied. Brian is accused of being disloyal, but honestly, it seemed to be a non-issue. He really did nothing wrong. Dawn, on the other hand, took infidelity to an art form. I did not find Dawn likeable. She seemed selfish and arrogant, often believing she was the smartest one in the room and behaving without thinking about others or the effect her behavior would have on others. I believe she was a very flawed character.
The major theme of the book was about how we live and how we die. All of the questions that arise at the moment we learn of our impending death and the days that follow are examined. As a Doula, Dawn tries to make the experience of death more tolerable so that the person dies with dignity and is free to let go when the time comes. She assists the family members as well and essentially, becomes a part of the family. She will grant them any wish she can to make the journey easier. How do we face death? How have we lived? When we discover we are dying do we live what is left of our lives differently? Are some things more important than others? Are there scores to settle? Can we go back and relive parts of our lives to capture what we have lost or been forced to give up? These are some of the questions being tackled.
Since Dawn was researching “The Book of Two Ways” which contained the spells that were buried with the dead, it did seem fitting that she should choose to be a Death Doula when she could no longer continue her studies.
I have enjoyed most books by this author, but this was not one of them. The themes were overdone and seemed contrived. The book was too long and needed editing. It was hard to determine whether or not Dawn was reliving the past or was living in the present as her story was told. The resolution of the issues was unsatisfying and unrealistic. Dawn was impulsive and rash, resented male superiority and seemed dissatisfied with her life. She wanted a redo. Although she took responsibility for her actions she didn’t seem to learn from them. The sex scenes seemed too explicit and seemed out of place in what seemed to be a serious book. The profane language seemed unreasonable and unnecessary.

  "" by RustyJessup (see profile) 11/13/20

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/20/21

  "" by LauraAdams (see profile) 08/26/21

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 03/02/22

  "" by dakelle (see profile) 10/13/22

Detail about Egypt was very good

  "" by swachowski (see profile) 11/17/22

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/24/22

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