One is autobiographical, where Luke recounts his life as a narcissistic, wolf anthropomorphizer in which he forsakes his family. He justified by his received wisdom from living with wolves in the wild. Typical of his delusions is:
... before she even comes into season, an alpha female knows the number of pups she is going to have, their gender, and if they'll stay in her pack or be dispersed to form a new one.Ultimately Luke's lupine mind reading becomes like the inner voice of a schizophrenic, haunting and dangerous, but impossible to ignore.
In the alternate storyline, Luke lies in a hospital in a vegetative state, while his family fights over his future. I imagine Luke would have enjoyed being the center of attention while everyone tries to read his non-communicating mind. The primary conflict is between Edward, his 24 year-old son, advocating withdrawal of life support and organ donation, and Cara, his 17 3/4 year-old daughter, advocating waiting for a miracle.
Cara is represented by Zirconia Notch, a lawyer who reads the minds of deceased pets. On Luke's side is Dr Saint-Clare. Here's what happens when the Zirconia, the pet medium, questions the neurologist in court.
"So, basically, you're reading minds now."Against this backdrop of mind reading, the author fills this compelling novel with characters as sympathetic as they are flawed, and even manages to cobble together a hopeful ending. Jodi Picoult's many fans, and new readers looking for a character rich story will not be disappointed.
Dr Saint-Clare raises his brows. "Actually, Ms Notch," he says, "I'm board-certified to do just that."