Lone Wolf

LONE WOLF’


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OPENING LINE:

People are Wolves too.


‘LONE WOLF’ PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

In the wild, when a wolf knows its time is over, when it knows it is of no more use to its pack, it may sometimes choose to slip away. Dying apart from its family, it stays proud and true to its nature. Humans aren’t so lucky. Luke Warren has spent his life researching wolves. He has written about them, studied their habits intensively, and even lived with them for extended periods of time. In many ways, Luke understands wolf dynamics better than those of his own family. His wife, Georgie, has left him, finally giving up on their lonely marriage. His son, Edward, twenty-four, fled six years ago, leaving behind a shattered relationship with his father. Edward understands that some things cannot be fixed, though memories of his domineering father still inflict pain. Then comes a frantic phone call: Luke has been gravely injured in a car accident with Edward’s younger sister, Cara. Suddenly everything changes: Edward must return home to face the father he walked out on at age eighteen. He and Cara have to decide their father’s fate together. Though there’s no easy answer, questions abound: What secrets have Edward and his sister kept from each other? What hidden motives inform their need to let their father die . . . or to try to keep him alive? What would Luke himself want? How can any family member make such a decision in the face of guilt, pain, or both? And most importantly, to what extent have they all forgotten what a wolf never forgets: that each member of a pack needs the others, and that sometimes survival means sacrifice?
©2012 Jodi Picoult (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC


THE PLOT:

Can you live with the choices you make? Out of the many questions the reader may be forced to ponder while reading ‘Lone Wolf’ by Jodi Picoult, this is definitely the greatest of them all. When Luke Warren elects to leave his family for two years in order to live among a pack of wild wolves in Quebec, he sets in motion a series of events that will tear his family apart. That decision impacts Luke directly, but as profound as that experience was for him, it was equally if not more profound for those he left behind.
When Luke and his teenage daughter Cara are injured in an automobile accident, all of the things that came about as a result of his decision to leave come together in such a way that they must be resolved. When Luke’s oldest son Edward returns home he must reconcile his responsibility as next of kin with the fact that he had been estranged from his father for six years.
Daughter Cara must deal with her own guilt over the accident as well as confronting the brother she believed betrayed her when he left six years earlier. She believes that he is the reason for their parents’ divorce and since she spent more time with their father, she believes has a better understanding of his final wishes.
Also brought into this complicated web is Luke’s ex-wife Georgie, who is caught in the middle of the dispute between the siblings. Her second husband, Joe, also enters the equation, serving as step-father to both siblings as well as Edward’s lawyer.
‘Lone Wolf’ is a clash of lifestyles, beliefs and personalities. Perhaps no greater contrast exists than the one between Georgie’s first and second husbands. This is an under-developed aspect of the story, but Luke is someone who is guided by instinct and impulse and Joe is guided by obligation and duty. This plays out in a wonderful scene where Joe, acting as Edward’s lawyer, must cross-examine Cara in court and has to jeopardize whatever relationship he built with her to best serve his client.
The book is told from the point of view of all the major players in this drama and one who is relatively minor but plays an important role. We get inside each character’s head and see what motivates them to act the way that they do. Whether they act responsibly, emotionally, irrationally or logically depends on choices that were made years ago.
Luke’s segments are my favorite because of how they address wolf culture, behavior and pack mentality. Often and undoubtedly intentional, Luke’s observations of wolf behavior are then playing out in the behavior of his human family.
‘Lone Wolf’ is an exploration of human behavior. It turns out that you can learn a lot about the way humans behave by learning about wolves. Wolves and humans both value family but have very different ways in which they demonstrate its importance. If nothing else, it makes for plenty of food for thought.


THE AUTHOR:

This is the first time I’ve read a Picoult novel and I found a lot to appreciate about her writing. Most obvious was the way that she grounded the story in authenticity. The whole thing felt real and every character reacted in plausible ways to the ever changing circumstances. It never felt weird that Luke Warren would want to leave his family to attempt to live with a pack of wild wolves because of how real the story felt everywhere else.
Picoult had a story that she wanted to tell and was willing to take her time to do so. This allowed her to create several complex and fully realized characters. The story is not heavy on plot twists, but there are a few and they are used effectively. Some of the plot twists work well in a “I did not see that coming” kind of way, and there are others that are not that surprising but work because they were timed perfectly.


THE NARRATION:

Mark Zeisler…as Luke
Celeste Ciulla…as Georgie
Nick Cordero…as Edward
Angela Goethals…as Cara
Louis Changchien…as Joe
Natalia Payne…as Helen
Andy Paris…as Barney

The story is told from the point of view of Luke, Cara, Edward, Georgie, Joe and Helen. Andy Paris as Barney appears only in the epilogue and, as his part is fairly short, it is really not appropriate to try and assess his performance.
Generally each of the narrators read their characters pretty well. For example, the character of Luke is quite scientific and isn’t prone to outbursts of emotion, and that is reflected in Zeisler’s narration which is straightforward and doesn’t feature a lot of acting.
On the other end of the spectrum is Cara who is read by Angela Goethals. Cara, being a character who is largely governed by emotion, provides for a lot more opportunities to act, and I never felt like Goethals was overdoing it in her performance.
In general, it was easy to listen to, and the fact that each character had a different narrator when the story was told from their point-of-view was a nice touch. At no point did I ever think to myself, “oh no, not him (or her) again.”


THE PRODUCTION:

One of my pet peeves with audiobooks that feature multiple narrators is that they don’t always tell you who is responsible for reading what. So if you are hearing many narrators for the first time, identifying them can be a challenge. Thankfully, ‘Lone Wolf’ does not suffer from this problem, as at both the beginning and the end we are expressly told which narrator read which part. It is such a simple thing to do, but it can be very helpful to the listener/reviewer.
In general, the track sounds fine. There are times where narrators can be heard loudly breathing into the mic. Sometimes this is an intentional acting choice and is perfectly understandable. When it happens and it isn’t acting, it is probably only going to be noticeable if you’re looking for it or if you’re wearing headphones.
Aside from that, the track sounds great. It never sounds spliced together or like the narrators were recorded at different volume levels. It is free from any skipping or other defects. There are no sound effects or background music added to the track.
The audio chapter stops are placed whenever there is a shift in character perspective. There are also a few added when we are with one character for a particularly lengthy period of time.


CONCLUSION:

‘Lone Wolf’ poses questions that we all must face at one point in time or another. How do we balance the life we have with the life we want? When do interests become obsessions and when do obsessions become dangerous? What does it mean to be a family? What happens when you don’t really feel like you belong in the world? And the most profound of all, what does it really mean to be alive?
In ‘Lone Wolf’ each character has a different set of beliefs that influence the decisions they make. And yet, even though there are disagreements and strife, there is ultimately coexistence and respect. ‘Lone Wolf’ doesn’t succeed because of the questions it forces us to consider, nor does it force the reader to accept one answer as being more correct than another. It succeeds because it shows us how the ways in which we answer those difficult questions will have an impact on how we deal with others. If only those of us in the real world could come away with as much respect and understanding of those with whom we disagree as the characters in this novel. We might be a lot better off.


QUICK FACTS:

Lone Wolf
Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Stars
Lone Wolf Jodi Picoult Full Cast Recorded Books Contemporary Fiction 02/28/2012 12 hours, 56 minutes 4.5/5

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘LONE WOLF’ was purchased from Audible for review. You can find all of this website’s audiobook content by clicking here.


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