10 Books to Read if You Love Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is one of the most popular authors writing contemporary fiction today. Her novels are compelling because she takes ordinary people and puts them in extraordinary circumstances.
Whether you’ve read all of Picoult’s novels, or are looking to branch out, if you’re a fan of her writing, you should also appreciate the authors listed below. I picked these particular novels because most of them feature families, a theme in Picoult’s work, and all have characters who are facing extraordinary situations and choices.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
This is my favorite of this author’s many books, though I had to suspend my disbelief to thoroughly enjoy it. I loved how the characters were all weird and flawed yet loving.The story ebbs and flows well. I especially loved how being a hypnotherapist forces the protagonist to deal with her own moral compass.
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin
Reminiscent of Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes, this novel centers around a school shooting. Because our narrator is six, the writing and language is simple. The reader is responsible for putting things together based on what Zach sees and hears around him in the months after this tragedy, and I liked that. It was a fast easy read, though obviously not uplifting. I appreciate the emphasis on the fact that human beings are complicated, especially when faced with crisis.
This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
There’s so much going on in this gorgeous novel, it will resonate with every reader on some level. It’s about a five year old boy who wants to grow up to be a girl, and the struggles his family faces as he grows and continues to identify as female. Frankel does a phenomenal job of setting the stage instead of jumping right into the drama. We get to know these two parents as individuals first and witness their romance. The writing throughout is poetic and invokes visceral reactions. This family’s story is told beautifully, it’s incredibly compelling.
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
When Cassie’s estranged mother calls out of the blue asking her to move home, Cassie’s immediate answer is no. But then circumstances change at Cassie’s current job and she leaps at the opportunity for a change of scenery. This is ultimately a novel about courage, in many forms. It’s about love, forgiveness, and acceptance. The characters are mostly flawed humans with good intentions, making them easy to root for. This was an all around wonderful reading experience.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
One of my favorite books from 2019, Evvie is relatable because she’s wonderfully human, she’s flawed and good intentioned. She’s giving and loving, yet she’s harboring secrets to protect herself and people she loves. The writing here is sharp, witty, and true to life. I appreciate that while the plot is a tiny bit predictable, the path to getting there wasn’t. This novel is ultimately about adulthood not looking like we pictured it, and trying to figure out what the hell to do about it. It’s a wonderful story all around about being human, taking care of ourselves, and asking for help when we need it.
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
This story makes the reader think about what exactly constitutes family, and how a person can thrive without a traditional one. Izzy is just graduated from high school, she’s pregnant with her teacher’s baby, her mother is dead, and her father is a drunk.She’s offered a spot in a new project that’s a ab utopian ideal-funded by an eccentric billionaire. The story is unique, the writing is lovely. The characters are realistic and likable. Even when they made choices I didn’t agree with, I could understand why they’d done it.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
One of the biggest new releases so far this year, this is a complex story about loss. A 12 year old boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash that kills 191 people including his parents and only brother. He captures the attention of the entire world, and we follow him on his recovery as the timeline alternately gives us the lead up to the actual crash. It’s a unique storyline that’s told skillfully.
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
This is a powerful, gut-wrenching story of a mother-daughter relationship. It’s a beautifully written, painfully honest story of relationships and family. There were passages where I didn’t want to read what was happening but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page. Strout creates vivid characters and writes them into startlingly emotional situations.
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
This novel falls into a unique niche category I encounter often. It’s a mystery/thriller, but with a complex emotional story. There’s a lot going on in this family, as we gradually learn through alternating glimpses into the past and present of Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana. It’s a wonderful exploration of the dynamics between mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law. It looks at the stereotypes and digs into how these women came to be who they are and why they interact as they do.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this writing here is exceptional. It’s funny yet poignant, and nearly poetic at times. Our narrator is witty and observant.Arthur Less is a failed novelist approaching fifty, who accepts all the invitations he’s received and makes plans to travel around the world for a few months, to distract himself during the wedding of a former lover. I believe we all have a little bit of Arthur Less in us, and that made me love him even when he was annoying as hell.
Have you read any of these novels? I’d love your opinion on how they compare to Picoult’s work.
Are there any others you’d add to my list?