Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult (Emily Bestler Books, 2012, 438pp.)
Tragedy strikes a New Hampshire family when 17-year-old Cara and her father, Luke, are in a car crash. Cara manages to escape with a broken arm, but Luke suffers a devastating brain injury and is left in a coma. The prognosis is grim, with little chance of his recovery. As Cara, her mother, Georgie, and her brother, Edward, gather at Luke’s bedside, the question arises: who is legally responsible for making medical decisions? Since Georgie divorced Luke several years ago and is no longer his legal spouse, the decision then falls to 24-year-old Edward. His opinion? Pull the plug. Cara's opinion? Give their father a chance to recover, so that maybe, weeks, months, even years from now, he just may wake up.
Like a good, old-fashioned soap opera, the plot often has the tendency to veer towards the melodramatic: Edward tries to unplug the life support machinery while his sister isn't looking, and in return, Cara goes to great lengths to have Edward arrested for attempted murder. Yet despite the teeth-gnashing and sibling rivalry, Lone Wolf succeeds in following in the footsteps of Picoult's earlier novel, My Sister’s Keeper. As some readers may have noticed, I tend to compare all of Picoult’s work to MSK, mainly because it’s the best one she’s written to date. Like MSK, Lone Wolf manages to focus more on the human aspects of the story, rather than champion Picoult’s political views. Even better, it may actually force readers to think about the importance of living wills, and prompt family discussions about end-of-life wishes. So, while Cara’s lack of maturity and Edward’s impulsiveness may grate on your nerves, keep reading! Only after the story is over, and the reader has the chance to think about what she’s read, does Lone Wolf become, in my opinion, a better-than-average Picoult novel.