Wish You Were Here is a story about the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, much of the book focuses on the main character, Diana’s, trip to the Galapagos and the friends she makes while she’s there.
Wish You Were Here captures the start of the pandemic perfectly. This novel completely encapsulates a moment in history, as we are all still living it and processing. It will truly live on as one of those books that serves as a record of history. It’s tough to categorize this as Historical Fiction, since we’re still currently living the ramifications of COVID-19, and the “history” is only 2 years hold. However, for future readers, it’s definitely a romantic historical fiction novel.
As the world begins to shut down in March 2020, Diana and her boyfriend Finn are planning to head to the Galapagos on vacation. But, Finn, a surgical resident in a New York hospital is discouraged to take vacation time, as the hospital prepares for COVID-19. Diana ends up heading on the vacation of their dreams solo, and when she arrives, the island shuts down due to the pandemic.
While stuck in the Galapagos, Diana is faced to make friends, find shelter for her unexpected long-term stay, and navigate how to communicate with those back home, while living on an island with unreliable WiFi. During her time in the Galapagos, Diana re-evaluates all the things she once had on her “life list”—you know those goals we set for ourselves that we want to accomplish by a certain age. She not only re-evaluates what she has always been working towards in the art auction world, but also in her relationships. Diana re-evaluates her estranged relationship with her mother, as well with her long-term boyfriend, Finn, who she had hopes would propose during their Galapagos trip.
Though much of this novel is focused around Diana’s time in the Galapagos, there are also scenes when COVID is discussed. Finn works in a hospital, and he shares many of his experiences with Diana. We also get to learn about the complications that COVID survivors faced after combating the disease—from physical challenges like learning to stand and walk again, to the emotional tolls that being in a comma caused some of them.
This story will pull at your heart strings, shock you more than once, bring you to tears, and make you laugh. You’ll be rooting for love, dealing with mental health and self-harm, being furloughed, as well as Alzheimer’s. If any of those topics, and COVID, are tough for you to read, go into this book with a warning that all are heavily discussed.
This is a fabulous read and one I think this generation will treasure for years to come. It’s a book that you will want to pass down to future generations, so they can understand what we are all living through dealing with COVID, and living in a world that completely shut down for months at a time. It’ll remind you of many of the nuances we all picked up during the first months of the pandemic—like wiping down groceries—and make you thankful for how far we’ve come today as we still learn to fight this disease, while also trying to resume some semblance of a “normal” life.
We read this book for our Virtual Book Club and it was a hit. You can watch the video of the discussion of our chat if you’re interested. But, keep in mind to read the book first as the discussion will include spoilers. This was a topic everyone was very passionate about—our discussion went on for over an hour! It was definitely a conversation that many wanted to have, and a topic that many had plenty to share about.