8 Deeply Affecting Novels Jodi Picoult Recommends

April 28 2022
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Anytime we see the name Jodi Picoult, we know we’re in for a treat. Her stories delve into deeply emotional moments and then branch out through multiple character perspectives, confounding our expectations and leaving our thoughts on human nature fundamentally changed. The books she recommends possess those same qualities.

The Foundling
by Ann Leary

"Ann Leary’s THE FOUNDLING is a compelling, shocking record of a too-hidden piece of history—when eugenics was commonly applauded as progressive social science . . .  A stunning reminder that not much time has passed since everyone claimed to know what was best for a woman—everyone except the woman herself.” —Jodi Picoult

From the New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD HOUSE, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate. Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, THE FOUNDLING offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”

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The Foundling
Ann Leary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate.

It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel.

Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care.

Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all.

Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”

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The Mountain Story
by Lori Lansens

“Lori Lansens has created a heart-pounder of a book that is every bit as much of an emotional roller-coaster as an adventurous one” —Jodi Picoult

Nola has decided to hike up a mountain to commemorate her wedding anniversary, the first since her beloved husband passed. Blonde, rail-thin Bridget is training for a triathalon. Vonn is working out her teenage rebellion at eight thousand feet, driven by family obligation and the urge to escape her mistakes. Still reeling from the tragic accident that robbed him of his best friend, Wolf Truly is the only experienced hiker in this group of four strangers but has come to the cliffs on his eighteenth birthday to end his life.

When a series of missteps strands them together in the wilderness, these four broken souls soon realize that their only defense against the brutality of nature is one another.

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The Mountain Story
Lori Lansens

“Lori Lansens has created a heart-pounder of a book that is every bit as much of an emotional roller-coaster as an adventurous one” (New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult).

In New York Times bestselling author Lori Lansens’ “moving portrait of the human spirit—as fierce, lovely, and indomitable as nature itself” (People, “Book of the Week”), Nola has decided to hike up a mountain to commemorate her wedding anniversary, the first since her beloved husband passed. Blonde, rail-thin Bridget is training for a triathalon. Vonn is working out her teenage rebellion at eight thousand feet, driven by family obligation and the urge to escape her mistakes. Still reeling from the tragic accident that robbed him of his best friend, Wolf Truly is the only experienced hiker in this group of four strangers but has come to the cliffs on his eighteenth birthday to end his life.

When a series of missteps strands them together in the wilderness, these four broken souls soon realize that their only defense against the brutality of nature is one another. As one day without rescue spirals dramatically into the next, and misadventure turns to nightmare, they begin to form an inextricable bond, pushing themselves and one another further than they ever could have dreamed possible. The three who make it home alive will be forever changed by their harrowing days on the mountain.

Braving a landscape both unforgivingly harsh and breathtakingly beautiful, Nola, Bridget, Vonn, and Wolf find themselves faced with an impossible question: How much will they sacrifice for a stranger? The Mountain Story is a fast-paced, suspenseful, and a gorgeous tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. “Your heart will be in your throat,” says Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

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The World That We Knew
by Alice Hoffman

“Alice Hoffman’s new novel will break your heart, and then stitch it back together piece by piece.  It’s about love and loss, about history and the world today, about what happens when man goes against the laws of nature for good and for evil.  It’s my new favorite Hoffman book—and if you know how much I adore her writing, that’s truly saying something.” —Jodi Picoult

At the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Her desperation leads her to Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi whose years spent eavesdropping on her father enables her to create a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never-ending.

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The World That We Knew
Alice Hoffman

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL

On the brink of World War II, with the Nazis tightening their grip on Berlin, a mother’s act of courage and love offers her daughter a chance of survival.

“[A] hymn to the power of resistance, perseverance, and enduring love in dark times…gravely beautiful…Hoffman the storyteller continues to dazzle.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

At the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Her desperation leads her to Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi whose years spent eavesdropping on her father enables her to create a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never-ending.

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The Island of Sea Women
by Lisa See

“Lisa See excels at mining the intersection of family, friendship and history, and in her newest novel, she reaches new depths exploring the matrifocal haenyeo society in Korea, caught between tradition and modernization.  This novel spans wars and generations, but at its heart is a beautifully rendered story of two women whose individual choices become inextricably tangled.” —Jodi Picoult

THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN takes place over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

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The Island of Sea Women
Lisa See

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A mesmerizing new historical novel” (O, The Oprah Magazine) from Lisa See, the bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and devastating family secrets on a small Korean island.

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility—but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook find it impossible to ignore their differences. The Island of Sea Women takes place over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

“This vivid…thoughtful and empathetic” novel (The New York Times Book Review) illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge and the men take care of the children. “A wonderful ode to a truly singular group of women” (Publishers Weekly), The Island of Sea Women is a “beautiful story…about the endurance of friendship when it’s pushed to its limits, and you…will love it” (Cosmopolitan).

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What Could Be Saved
by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

"A delicious hybrid of mystery, drama, and elegance:  rich with detail, lush in language, and capable of keeping you on the edge of your seat. " –Jodi Picoult

Alternating between past and present as all of the secrets are revealed, What Could Be Saved is an unforgettable novel about a family broken by loss and betrayal.

Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Beatrice as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared forty years earlier when the family lived in Bangkok, Laura ignores Bea’s warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true. But meeting him in person leads to more questions than answers.

Bangkok, 1972: Genevieve and Robert Preston live in a beautiful house behind a high wall, raising their three children with the help of a cadre of servants. In these exotic surroundings, Genevieve strives to create a semblance of the life they would have had at home in the US—ballet and riding classes for the children, impeccable dinner parties, a meticulously kept home. But in truth, Robert works for American intelligence, Genevieve finds herself drawn into a passionate affair with her husband’s boss, and their serene household is vulnerable to unseen dangers in a rapidly changing world and a country they don’t really understand.

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What Could Be Saved
Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

When a mysterious man claims to be her long-missing brother, a woman must confront her family’s closely guarded secrets in this “delicious hybrid of mystery, drama, and elegance” (Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Beatrice as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared forty years earlier when the family lived in Bangkok, Laura ignores Bea’s warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true. But meeting him in person leads to more questions than answers.

Bangkok, 1972: Genevieve and Robert Preston live in a beautiful house behind a high wall, raising their three children with the help of a cadre of servants. In these exotic surroundings, Genevieve strives to create a semblance of the life they would have had at home in the US—ballet and riding classes for the children, impeccable dinner parties, a meticulously kept home. But in truth, Robert works for American intelligence, Genevieve finds herself drawn into a passionate affair with her husband’s boss, and their serene household is vulnerable to unseen dangers in a rapidly changing world and a country they don’t really understand.

Alternating between past and present as all of the secrets are revealed, What Could Be Saved is an unforgettable novel about a family broken by loss and betrayal, and “a richly imagined page-turner that delivers twists alongside thought-provoking commentary” (Kirkus Reviews).

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Dear Emmie Blue
by Lia Louis

“A delightful story about how the things we imagine to be best for us usually aren’t. The reason you will love DEAR EMMIE BLUE is because you’ve probably lived DEAR EMMIE BLUE, in some small part of your own journey to adulthood.” –Jodi Picoult

 At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned.

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Dear Emmie Blue
Lia Louis

In this charming and poignant novel that “oozes charm and wit and speaks beautifully about friendship and love, and the differences between the two” (Laura Pearson, author of I Wanted You to Know), teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it. But fourteen years later, everything Emmie has planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached address, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue “beautifully captures the heartache and frustrations of carrying our teenaged selves with us wherever we go” (Anstey Harris, author of Goodbye Paris) that is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.

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Breathe In, Cash Out
by Madeleine Henry

"As a blessedly former financial analyst at Salomon Brothers, reading BREATHE IN, CASH OUT gave me shudders of PTSD. The untenable lifestyle, the claustrophobia of the job, and the risks to one’s personal health are drawn so realistically—this is a portrait of the devil in Big Finance, which promises untold riches in return for serving an inhumane master. Allegra’s fictional story is raw, unnerving, and sadly, very true." –Jodi Picoult

In this sizzling debut, a banking analyst plans to finally pursue her yoga career full-time after her bonus hits, but until then she’ll have to keep her sanity intact (and her chakras aligned). On top of the 100 emails an hour and coworkers already suspicious of her escape plan, Allegra’s hard-driving single father has always fiercely valued high achievement above all else. That his daughter works on Wall Street means everything to him.

But after a) unknowingly sleeping with the man now leading her banking cohort on one of their biggest deals to date and b) meeting the #blessed yoga guru who might just be her ticket to the life she’s always wanted, she realizes her happy-ever-after might be harder to manifest than she thought.

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Breathe In, Cash Out
Madeleine Henry

The Devil Wears Prada meets Wall Street” (TheSkimm) in this sizzling debut about a banking analyst who plans to finally pursue her yoga career full-time after her bonus hits, but until then she’ll have to keep her sanity intact (and her chakras aligned).

Allegra Cobb’s resume: straight-A Princeton grad, second-year analyst at a top-tier bank, one-time American Yoga National Competition Champion. Allegra Cobb’s reality: Spending twenty-four hours a day changing the colors on bar charts, overusing the word “team,” and daydreaming about quitting the minute her year-end bonus hits her account. She no longer has no interest in the cutthroat banking world—she’s determined to launch her very own yoga practice.

But her plan isn’t quite as perfect as the beachfront yoga pictures she double-taps on Instagram. On top of the 100 emails an hour and coworkers already suspicious of her escape plan, Allegra’s hard-driving single father has always fiercely valued high achievement above all else. That his daughter works on Wall Street means everything to him.

But after a) unknowingly sleeping with the man now leading her banking cohort on one of their biggest deals to date and b) meeting the #blessed yoga guru who might just be her ticket to the life she’s always wanted, she realizes her happy-ever-after might be harder to manifest than she thought.

Fast-paced, laugh-out-loud funny, and totally irresistible, Breathe In, Cash Out “is a modern fairytale, a romance that’s not about finding the right guy, but finding yourself” (Eliza Kennedy, author of I Take You).

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The American Roommate Experiment
by Elena Armas

“What happens when a romance writer gets trapped by her own tropes? A novel that is fun, fresh, and sexy as hell.”—Jodi Picoult

Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.

Lucas offers to let Rosie stay with him, at least until she can find some affordable temporary housing. And then he proposes an outrageous experiment to bring back her literary muse and meet her deadline: He’ll take her on a series of experimental dates meant to jump-start her romantic inspiration. Rosie has nothing to lose. Her silly, online crush is totally under control—but Lucas’s time in New York has an expiration date, and six weeks may not be enough, for either her or her deadline.

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The American Roommate Experiment
Elena Armas

From the author of the Goodreads Choice Award winner The Spanish Love Deception, the eagerly anticipated follow-up featuring Rosie Graham and Lucas Martín, who are forced to share a New York apartment.

Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.

Lucas offers to let Rosie stay with him, at least until she can find some affordable temporary housing. And then he proposes an outrageous experiment to bring back her literary muse and meet her deadline: He’ll take her on a series of experimental dates meant to jump-start her romantic inspiration. Rosie has nothing to lose. Her silly, online crush is totally under control—but Lucas’s time in New York has an expiration date, and six weeks may not be enough, for either her or her deadline.

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