Mummies, Multiverse, and Many Ways to Love
My not-quite-review of The Book of Two Ways
“When you lose someone you love, there is a tear in the fabric of the universe. It's the scar you feel for, the flaw you can't stop seeing. It's the tender place that won't bear weight. It's a void.”
― Jodi Picoult, The Book of Two Ways
Happy Easter and Passover to those who celebrate! Personally, I’ve been honoring the spring themes of renewal, rebirth, and even acknowledging death as an inevitable part of life ever since the Vernal Equinox/Ostara a couple of weeks ago.
In case you missed it, you can read my post here:
Since writing that post, I’ve:
Started trays of seeds and placed them on heat mats beneath grow lights
Done a ritual blessing of my garden tools and seeds
Ordered more seeds (you can see our most recent High Mowing haul on IG @northenlightsfarms)
The Book of Two Ways — Not Quite a Review
I’ve also finished reading The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult. As you might have guessed from this week’s quote, Death is a major theme (so much so, that it seems fitting to use a proper noun). It’s almost more of a silent character in the story.
This was the first book on a list of recommendations Hayley offered over the past 2.5 years. She told me about it before the fateful hospital trip that marked the line between before and after for her. It was the first time she told me about wanting to be a Death Doula, or to somehow work in death. Her eyes lit up with purpose and meaning when she talked about directing her bounty of skills to such an underserved line of work.
Part of my motivation for reading The Book of Two Ways at this time was a desire to connect with Hayley — to understand her and continue learning from her even after death.
And this book delivered.
In fact, there were times I had to set it aside — when the storyline veered too close to my heart, and my eyes blurred with tears. I don’t think this is a bad thing. It really says something when an author can turn a work of fiction into a source of healing for real life.
The Book of Two Ways follows a woman who’s about my age (39, ICYI). She’s an Egyptology academic turned Death Doula who’s obsessed — as academics must be — with Egyptian coffin texts, specifically, a map to the afterlife called the Book of Two Ways.
This is the first Picoult book I’ve read, so I’m not sure if the nonlinear way she structured the story is unique to this novel, but I fucking loved it. She indirectly connects the parallel routes depicted in the Book of Two Ways (map) to the multiverse hypothesis, and again to the “what ifs” we ask ourselves about at any given point on the timeline we find ourselves on.
If you’re puzzled, just go read the book and you’ll see what I mean. You’re not sure exactly what’s going on in the most brilliant way.
As the book neared its end and I felt relatively sure I knew what timeline the main character was on, I started wondering how Piclout was going to tie it all together in a satisfying conclusion. Turns out, she didn’t. The story ends in a much more realistic way, with a new beginning.
With fantasy as my primary fiction genre, this book gave me a refreshing dose of the magic that abounds in everyday life. I’m not sure about the accuracy, but Picoult dove into several interesting topics, including:
It also has a decent dose of passionate romance mixed with the stories we tell ourselves about why we make the decisions we do. I’m not sure how relatable this story would be if I wasn’t a middle-aged woman, but that’s who I am, and I loved it.
You can buy the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or check your local, independent bookstore (if you’re so lucky to have one!)
That’s all for now, friends.
As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate you!
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