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From Barnes & NobleOur Review
As one of the bestselling writers of legal thrillers like Absolute Power, David Baldacci is known for his hair-raising plots and fast-paced suspense. But in a significant departure from his usual fare (though the end result is no less compelling), Baldacci slows things down a bit for his latest saga, Wish You Well, a story he culled from his own family's history and experiences. It's a coming-of-age tale reminiscent of that timeless classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, where the setting -- Virginia mountain coal country in the post-Depression '40s -- is as much a character as any of the people who walk the pages.
The lives of 12-year-old Lou Cardinal and her eight-year-old brother, Oscar ("Oz"), are forever altered when an auto accident takes the life of their writer father and leaves their mother in a catatonic state. Used to the hectic bustle of New York City, they find themselves transplanted to the mountain cabin home of their great-grandmother, Louisa Mae Cardinal. Their new home has no electricity or running water, and their food comes not from any grocery store but from the barn and the land. Their new neighbors are simple folk, many of them poor, uneducated, and worked to the bone. But beneath them all is The Mountain, with its power to mesmerize and nurture their minds and their souls.
Though Lou rebels against her new life at first, she eventually grows to appreciate her hardscrabble existence, rising before dawn to milk the cows, attending school in a one-room schoolhouse, and then working till dusk to prepare, plant, and harvest crops. Her great-grandmother's simple lifestyle, boundless spirit, and obvious love of The Mountain become contagious. But there is plenty of ugliness here, too, not the least of which is the pervasive poverty and prejudicial ignorance subscribed to by some. When a greedy corporate entity enters the picture, Baldacci takes his readers into territory more familiar, culminating the tale in a highly satisfying David-and-Goliath-style courtroom battle.
The title is an apt one, a reference to Oz and Lou's childish wishes and their belief in things wondrous and magical, a belief that often slams up against the harsh truths of reality. Yet in the end, something magical does prevail. And although all the characters in this tale may not survive, the mystical allure of The Mountain and its effect on those who come to know it, does.