BOOKS FOR THE POST-PANDEMIC ‘NEW NORMAL’

Wish You Were Here
By Jodi Picoult

Diana and Finn have a plan. She will climb the corporate ladder at Sotheby’s while he finishes his surgical residency. They will marry and have 2.5 kids, a dog and a home outside the city. As their bucket list grows, the first box is soon to be checked. Diana and Finn prepare to leave for a dream vacation in the Galapagos. Coronavirus is splattered intermittently through the news, but Finn feels confident it will not affect their plans. When his program director nixes any time off, Finn encourages Diana to go alone. Hours into her flight, New York City explodes with COVID. As she arrives on the small island of Isabela, it too goes into lockdown. Diana has few options and minimal WiFi. Forced to reach way out of her comfort zone, she befriends a local family: Beatriz, a young girl desperate for friendship; her handsome, intelligent father Gabriel; and their nurturing and loving Abuela. Weeks turn into months as Diana examines her career choices, Finn and her awkward relationship with a famous mother she barely knew. Eventually returning home, Diana enters an entirely new and terrifying world. In a heartfelt and magical story, Jodi Picoult explores the rollercoaster we experienced the last two years through the eyes of characters you will remember long after the last page.

Love in Lockdown
By Chloe James

One night while Sophia Trent quietly cries on her balcony, a mysterious voice calls down to her. It’s her neighbor Jack Stanton, whom she’s never met. Initially embarrassed, Jack offers conversation that immediately makes Sophia feel remarkably better. England has just entered a lockdown and everyone must adjust to weeks upon weeks of life in quarantine. Terrified of catching the virus, her unadulterated loneliness forces Sophia to realize that her purpose may be to help others in her community who cannot manage on their own. As her neighbor Jack becomes her confidant and she assists him in getting much-needed groceries, they form a bond unlike any she has ever experienced. Without ever having seen each other, these two become dependent on the strength and encouragement provided each and every night on the balcony. This pandemic love story reminds us that giving to others can help people feel less alone in a world that continues to challenge us every day. While everyone has their own story, being aware of our surroundings and the struggles that arise in more vulnerable populations is the first step to helping within our immediate communities. Spreading kindness and falling in love go hand in hand in this adorable, meaningful and hopeful romance.

56 Days
By Catherine Ryan Howard

Ciara and Oliver meet while waiting in line at a small grocery shop in Dublin. He admires her NASA tote bag and a quick conversation about rockets leads to a walk, coffee and an invitation for a date. Ciara cannot believe her luck. She is rather shy and new to Dublin, and Oliver is extremely attractive and charming. Days later, Ireland is threatening an official lockdown for COVID-19. It jeopardizes their newfound friendship, something they crave as pandemic restrictions escalate their isolation. Very quickly – most likely too quickly – Ciara moves into Oliver’s apartment so they can work remotely and continue to get to know each other. Oliver appears quite content in their little bubble. He is more at ease than she has seen him since their initial meeting. Their romance blossoms, but small clues present themselves daily that Ciara can no longer ignore, and she begins to snoop. Weeks later, when a neighbor complains of a horrifying smell emanating down the hall, the detectives arrive. A decomposing body is discovered in the bathroom and the apartment appears to be wiped clean. As Oliver’s identity comes to light, this perfect storm sheds new light on a crime that was buried long ago. A fast-paced thriller that twists and turns until the bitter end.

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