“Life asked death, “Why do people love me but hate you?” Death responded, “Because you are a beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.” —Unknown”
― Jodi Picoult The Book of Two Ways
I’m surprised that this book is not more highly rated on Goodreads (3.66). However, I do find Jodi’s books mixed – some I love and some I could not even finish, and yet I love so many of them, and this is one of them. What an interesting and clever story. I have never heard of a Death Doula, so it was interesting to read about what they do, and the difference they make. I particularly loved the interwoven stories and flashbacks of the Egyptians and the uncovering of the tombs in Egypt. One thing that Jodi has done well in so many of her books is educating you whilst enjoying a story. I particularly loved learning all about elephants in her book Leaving Time. If you are interested in Egyptology you will particularly enjoy this book. However, it is complex, and if you are reading the book it might be harder – I listened to it as an audiobook and found it easier.
On the other side of the coin though, I was confused by the changes in time, before and after the plane crash. It was not always clear to me what was actually happening and what was a flashback or a dream or this other life.
In summary the story is about Dawn who in the present time of the book is married and has a daughter, living in New York. However, after surviving a plane crash she goes back to Egypt to find her former lover, the love of her life. At some point her life splits in two and she is living happily in New York as a Death Doula, helping a patient with cancer who becomes a good friend and her other life is as an Egyptolologist, when she is living in Egypt uncovering tombs and deciphering what they find. It is fascinating that she can read the hieroglyphics, I cannot imagine many people in the World can do this. Imagine being able to read this:
So death doula’s also known as death midwives are real and they have them in this country too. What Dawn says in the book is that a midwife helps you into the world, so it makes sense to have a midwife help you to leave it. The death doula prepares the individual and their loved ones, brings sacredness and understanding to the dying experience and provides respite to loved ones, including doing practical tasks such as shopping or walking the dog. I have to say when I read the things that Dawn did for her dying patients, I thought what a wonderful idea this is, and why is it not well known or used much in the UK (or anywhere). Perhaps it is not affordable or it is simply not well publicised.
If you like Jodi Picoult, I can highly recommend the following: Small Great Things, The Pact, Leaving Time, The Storyteller and Lone Wolf.