As the world grappled with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, Jodi Picoult penned her amazing novel Wish You Were Here, which, after you read, will help you explore the resilience of the your human spirit, particularly during such times of crisis.
Set in the Galapagos Islands, the story follows a young woman, Diana O’Toole, as she navigates lockdown and isolation far away from a place she calls home.
Through her journey of self-reflection, connection, and adaptation, Diana learns to confront her deepest fears and cherish the relationships that matter most.
In this discussion guide, we’ll have a look at some amazing book club questions for Wish You Were Here and why it’s a must-read for anyone looking for a poignant and timely reminder of the power of the human spirit to endure and thrive in the face of adversity.
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Wish You Were Here Book Club Questions
- Diana’s ventilator-induced psychosis causes her to hallucinate the events of her supposed trip to the Galapagos. This experience blurs the lines between reality and imagination, making it difficult for Diana to distinguish between the two. Her relationships with Gabriel and Beatriz are based on her hallucinations, and her relationship with Finn becomes more distant as she becomes increasingly isolated from the real world.
Do you think it was this experience that caused her to grapple with feelings of guilt, particularly after the death of her mother, which she initially believed had already occurred?
- Diana’s relationship with her mother is complicated throughout the novel, as she reflects on her childhood and her mother’s absence. However, as her mother becomes ill, Diana begins to make efforts to repair their relationship by visiting her regularly at the care facility. Although her mother eventually passes away, Diana mourns her deeply, indicating a shift in their relationship from one of indifference to one of caring and grief.
Based on the text, discuss how one can mend their relationship with their parents irrespective of their past. Also, have you tried it with anyone else apart from your parents?
- Diana’s relationship with her father is loving and supportive, while her relationship with her mother is way more strained. She has an amazing bond with Finn, but as she becomes more isolated from the world, their relationship becomes more distant.
Is this an indication that mutual love is multifaceted and can be difficult to navigate, particularly when circumstances change?
- Diana’s decision to turn down Finn’s proposal and her eventual trip to the Galapagos signify a shift in her priorities and desires. After her experience on the ventilator, she realizes that she is not the same person she was before and that her plans for life have changed. She rejects the traditional path of settling down with a partner and instead chooses to pursue her passion for art therapy and travel.
If given a chance, would you like to take a similar path in life? If yes, what would you do?
- Diana’s career as an art therapist is a crucial part of the novel, highlighting the importance of creativity and expression in the healing process. Throughout the story, Diana uses her art therapy skills to help others, whether it’s through her work with patients in the hospital or her attempts to connect with her mother.
What’s your response to these artistic abilities being the way for her to process her experiences and emotions and eventually helping her to come to terms with the impact the lockdown has had in her life?
- What is the most important role the setting of the Galapagos played in the overall story?
– serves as a vivid and exotic backdrop for Diana’s experiences, creating a sense of otherworldliness that amplifies the impact of her ventilator-induced psychosis.
– highlights the idea that reality can be different for everyone, depending on their perspective.
– exacerbates her feelings of disconnection and confusion due to the isolation and lack of communication.
- Beatriz’s realization that she is in love with her host sister, Ana Maria, creates a sense of conflict within her, and she struggles with feelings of not fitting in. This conflict ultimately leads her to cut herself out, but when Gabriel discovers his daughter’s relationship with Ana Maria and accepts her for who she is, Beatriz’s relationship with her father improves, and she begins to accept her life on Isabela.
Discuss the nature of Gabriel as a father based on this context. How good a father was he, according to you?
- Diana bonds with Beatriz over their shared experiences of feeling out of place and their absent mothers. Through her conversations with Beatriz, Diana is able to help her repair her relationship with her father, Gabriel, and provide her with maternal care and protection that Diana herself missed growing up.
Do you think this relationship with Beatriz allowed Diana to sublimate and resolve some of the conflicts that she faced? Also, discuss how it served as a space for her to reflect on her own life and her self-made decisions.
- Finn’s role as a doctor in the Covid ward during the pandemic takes a toll on his mental health, leading him to overindulge himself in alcohol. This eventually leads him to become insecure and afraid, desperately holding on to everything in his life, including Diana. Sadly, the rift had already been created and he has already lost his lady love.
The pandemic has been a very tough time for all of us. Just like Finn, we too have suffered our own personal losses. Would you like to share anything related to your pandemic struggles and how it affected you as an individual?
- Diana’s relationship with her father is a significant influence on her character and choices in the novel. Her father was always present, supportive, and loving, which gave Diana a sense of security and confidence. It is evident in the way she plans her career and personal life meticulously, similar to how her father planned everything in their family.
Do you think Diana’s story of making tough life decisions actually came from her Dad? Also, discuss how much effect does our childhood and upbringing have in our lives, just like in the case of Diana.
If you liked this set of questions, here are a few other options for you to explore –
Reminders of Him: In this heart-wrenching yet hopeful tale by bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a young mother yearns for redemption after a tragic mistake lands her in prison. As she fights to rebuild her shattered life, a local bar owner becomes her only ray of hope, but their connection could jeopardize everything.
French Braid: Get ready to laugh, cry, and fall in love with the unforgettable Garrett family. Anne Tyler’s French Braid takes you on a hilarious and heartwarming journey through time, filled with love, dreams, and the beautiful messiness of family.
Beautiful Country: Seven-year-old Qian leaves her privileged life in China for a challenging existence in America. Overcoming language barriers and poverty, she finds solace in books and small joys, while her family’s secrets threaten to tear them apart.
Project Hail Mary: Meet Ryland Grace, a man awakened from a deep slumber in space, unaware of his mission or identity. With his crew dead, memories returning, and Earth’s fate hanging in the balance, he must solve an unimaginable puzzle and save humanity—against all odds.
A Man Called Ove: Meet Ove, the grumpy yet lovable neighbor from hell. But behind his cranky exterior lies a story of sadness. When a lively family moves in next door, a comical and heartwarming tale unfolds, transforming Ove and his community in unexpected ways.