The original Book of the Two Ways was discovered in ancient Egyptian coffins and was described as a map of the afterlife. In Jodi Picoult’s version, The Book of Two Ways, Dawn is an Egyptologist exploring the tombs of ancient kings on the Nile. She is there with the man she believes to be her soul mate when she receives a message from her dying mother who is in the terminal stages of cancer. She drops everything and travels back home to Boston to be with her mother in the hospice.
Fifteen years later with a new career as a death doula (a person who assists with end-of-life care), a new husband and a new life, one life-altering moment leads her to see two possible futures.
This is a book about the decisions people make and the paths they lead us down. What are we looking for? What does a well lived life look like? How do we plan a good death? Do we actually have free will or is everything predestined? These questions are explored through the friendship she builds with one of her terminally ill clients, Win, and becomes one of the most interesting relationships in the book but it leaves Dawn ultimately having to decide which man and which life to choose to fulfil her ambitions. Does she want the life she thought she wanted or the life she has now created for herself?
Prolific Picoult, author of twenty five novels, is known for meticulously researching interesting backgrounds for her books but in this case readers may find it too detailed and too much of a distraction from the main story which is in itself unnecessarily long.
The reader may lose patience with the heroine by the end as she drags her family to the edge of reason and toils to make up her mind.