Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review : The Wishing Trees - John Shors

I picked up an ARC of this book off the giveaway shelf at work

Almost a year after the death of his wife, Kate, former high-tech executive Ian finds a letter that will change his life. It contains Kate’s final wish – a plea for him to take their ten-year-old daughter, Mattie, on a trip across Asia, through all the countries they had planned to visit to celebrate their fifteenth anniversary.Eager to honor the wife and mother they loved, Ian and Mattie embark on an epic journey that retraces the early days of Ian’s relationship with Kate. Along the way, Ian and Mattie leave paper “wishes” in ancient trees as symbols of their connection to Kate and their dreams for the future. Through incredible landscapes and inspiring people, Ian and Mattie are greeted with miracles large and small. And as they celebrate what Kate meant to them, they begin to find their way back to each other, discovering that healing is possible and that love endures – lessons that Kate hoped to show them all along - New American Library
The story of the young daughter and her father appealed to me.  Also the mother "guiding" them even after her death was a nice twist to the plot.  Each time Ian and Mattie read one of the messages their reaction was different - excitement, trepidation, frustration.  I felt like I was grieving for Kate with them.  Also I love to explore new countries and the travel part of the plot was fascinating to me as well.

This book has a good message at the end, but most of the time I was reading it I felt sad and sympathetic for both Ian and Mattie.  I wasn't sure if Ian could ever move on with his life after Kate's death.  I won't give away what happens at the end, but I did feel that parts of the plot at the end were a little forced.  It would have been nice to not have the ending wrapped up nicely with a bow on it.  I also felt that the reader was left hanging about how Mattie and Ian's relationship changes after their long adventure abroad.  I was hoping for an epilogue looking at Mattie and Ian's life 5 or 10 years later.

Shors definitely plays on some cliches for a single dad - clothing tattered, hard time braiding Mattie's hair, not shopping for dresses with her.  I think though that Ian's depth as a character wouldn't have been deep without those cliches.  By the end of the book, Ian's accent (he's originally from Australia) and mannerisms were becoming a tad bit annoying.

I don't have children or have lost a partner so I can only imagine how tough it is to move on afterwards.  This book uniquely describes how one fictional father & daughter attempts to move on after losing the love of their lives. I recommend this book.

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