Ode To The Queen Of The Social Dilemma: Jodi Picoult - With A Complete Book List (In Chronological Order!)
Celebrating thirty years of novels that tug at our heartstrings and demand self-reflection
In her long career, Jodi Picoult has written 25 novels (listed below), two young adult novels (with her daughter!), one musical, and one graphic novel.
For two decades I have recommended many of Picoult’s novels to my high school students as independent reading choices. Her books are readable, her characters are likable, and the plots are engaging. She never disappoints. It also doesn’t hurt that Picoult is from the great state of New Hampshire, where I happen to live and teach.
In my humble opinion, Jodi Picoult is the queen of the social dilemma. Her stories all revolve around a contemporary social issue, have multiple narrators showing the various sides of the story, and characters that feel very real. The stories delve into complex human emotions and human behaviors. I always know that no matter the storyline, that I won’t be able to put a Jodi Picoult book down.
For many years, My Sister’s Keeper and Plain Truth were big hits amongst my senior students. Later, they all wanted to read Nineteen Minutes, a devastating story about a horrific school shooting.
These stories spoke to my students, pulling them in with social issues that were relevant and meaningful to them. Picoult’s inevitable shocking plot twist at the end had my students recommending her novels to each other – music to an English teacher’s ears!
Her latest novel (from the time of this writing), Wish You Were Here, is a story during the Covid 19 pandemic. Scroll down for a detailed review of Wish You Were Here for the high school classroom.
Check out this NPR interview here.
For more information on Jodi Picoult, check out her website here.
Jodi Picoult’s Books in Order:
Here is a chronological list of Picoult’s novels. The books I highly recommend have been starred. Enjoy!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
Mad Honey, 2022
Wish You Were Here, 2021 ***
The Book of Two Ways, 2020
A Spark of Light, 2018
Small Great Things, 2016 ***
Off the Page: YA, 2015
Leaving Time, 2014
The Storyteller, 2013 ***
Between the Lines: YA, 2012
Lone Wolf, 2012
Sing You Home, 2011
Over the Moon: A Musical Play, 2011
House Rules, 2010 ***
Handle with Care, 2009
Change of Heart, 2007
Wonder Woman: Love and Murder Graphic Novel, 2007
Nineteen Minutes, 2007 ***
The Tenth Circle, 2006 ***
Vanishing Acts, 2005
My Sister’s Keeper, 2003 ***
Second Glance, 2003
Perfect Match, 2002
Salem Falls, 2001
Plain Truth, 1999
Keeping Faith, 1999
The Pact, 1998 ***
Picture Perfect, 1995
Harvesting the Heart, 1993
Wish You Were Here: A Story That We All Can Relate To
In true Jodi Picoult fashion, this story is based on a societal issue – in this case it’s Covid – and brings the reader back to those first days, not knowing how bad it would get or how long it would last.
Summary: Diana O’Toole has her life totally planned out. She is rising through the ranks at her job at Sotheby’s. She is planning on an impending engagement to her surgical resident boyfriend, Finn, in the Galapagos.
Then, Covid hits New York City. Because it is all hands on deck in NYC’s medical community, Finn tells Diana to go on the trip without him, which she reluctantly does. And then, the world shuts down.
What I Love About Wish You Were Here
Like I said above, Picoult’s books are always readable and Wish You Were Here is no exception. I have had so many students over the decades who have picked up one of her books and credited her for getting them back into reading. Her stories are never boring and always relatable. She truly understands the human condition and kind of speaks to my soul with every book (and I have read almost every one!).
Maybe more than ever before, Picoult wrote a book that we can literally all relate to. In Wish You Were Here, we relive those first days of Covid in the United States – the uncertainty, the disbelief that it would change our lives in the massive way that it has.
There is so much here for our students to connect with other than Covid: making hard choices, dealing with ill family members, strained parent-child relationships, cutting, staying stuck in unhealthy patterns – the list goes on.
To be quite honest, I was a little hesitant to read this book because I, like so many others, have severe Covid fatigue. However, reading this is almost like opening up a time capsule from New York in those very first days. I had forgotten so much of what those first months were like and it was interesting to look back on it with a new perspective.
Using Wish You Were Here in the Classroom
I think I will wait a bit to recommend this book to my students. I feel like maybe it is too soon (March 2022). My best advice is to read it for yourself and see what you think. You know your students and population best. For me, I am hesitant to reintroduce the polarizing arguments amongst my kiddos. I also would only recommend this to older students due to a couple of graphic-ish sex scenes.
I definitely recommend it for teachers, but am still unsure about my students.
Check out the lesson planning template that I use for creating and organizing my lessons here!
For other recommendations for high school students, please check out some of my posts below!
My British Literature Independent Reading List – Part One
YA Books Your Grade Nine Students Will Love
A Mystery Your Seniors Will Love – The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A Powerful and Emotional Story – Home Front by Kristin Hannah