The Wishing Trees

( 22 )

Overview

Almost a year after the death of his wife, 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 the countries they had always planned to visit. Eager to honor the woman they loved, Ian and Mattie embark on an epic journey, leaving notes to Kate in "wishing trees" along the way, and encountering miracles large and small. And as they begin to find their way back to each other,...

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Overview

Almost a year after the death of his wife, 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 the countries they had always planned to visit. Eager to honor the woman they loved, Ian and Mattie embark on an epic journey, leaving notes to Kate in "wishing trees" along the way, and encountering miracles large and small. And as they begin to find their way back to each other, they discover that healing is possible and love endures-lessons that Kate hoped to show them all along...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though Shors (Dragon House) has skirted the edge of mawkishness in his earlier books, he crosses the line in this emotionally manipulative story of grief. Ian McCray is still a wreck a year after the death of his wife, Kate, when he finds a letter from her instructing him to take their daughter, Mattie, on the tour of Asia that she and Ian had planned for their 15th anniversary. Kate's helpfully left behind letters stored in film canisters to be opened in each country they visit, beginning with Japan, where Kate and Ian fell in love. During the trip, Ian and Mattie try to forge a closeness like the one enjoyed between mother and daughter, but it's no easy task, and Kate's letters, meanwhile, prove to be an emotional minefield. While the travel narrative is nicely handled, Kate's goodness is so overdone that she might as well have wings and a halo, and the letters she leaves behind are off-puttingly saccharine. Add the drawings Mattie leaves in "wishing trees" throughout Asia for her mother to see from heaven, and the result is like having your tears jerked at knifepoint. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Shors's fourth novel (after Dragon House) begins with the maudlin plot of a widower fulfilling his wife's last wish. A dying Kate writes her husband, Ian, and daughter, Mattie, and asks them to travel across Asia without her, on the trip she had planned to take. Father and daughter journey across the continent, encountering internal and physical conflicts while remembering Kate and opening little notes she wrote for each destination. They also see wishing trees where people tie desires and prayers on pieces of paper in the hopes they will be answered; Ian and Mattie use them to communicate with Kate. VERDICT This novel might initially appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks, but it does not live up to Sparks's standard of a good if predictable romance. Treacle, from the sappy plot to the unbelievable dialog.—Shalini Miskelly, Seattle
Kirkus Reviews

From Shors (Beside a Burning Sea, 2008, etc.), a novel almost more heartwarming than a body can stand.

Aussie Ian recently lost his American wife, Kate. Although he and his ten-year-old daughter Mattie grieve intensely, they decide to honor Kate's memory by following through on one of her last requests—that they retrace a journey Ian and Kate had made earlier through Asia. Ian quits his job as a high-paying executive, and the narrative develops a flow based on the rhythm of their journey—from Japan to Nepal to India to Hong Kong to Vietnam and finally to Egypt. Kate has written some posthumous letters and poems that Ian and Mattie open periodically as they reach their various destinations. In this way they get reassurance of Kate's continuing concern, devotion and love from beyond the grave. Mattie is an aspiring artist and leaves sketches and notes for her mother in trees as they move from place to place. One of Kate's requests is that they do good along the way by helping people in need, so they take time to do this, most notably by befriending a poor boy, Rupee, in India, an untouchable who survives by diving for gold teeth in the Ganges. One of Kate's requests involves their getting in touch with Georgia, Kate's former best friend and now a bank executive working in Hong Kong, and her daughter Holly. Georgia, too, has suffered: She had an unfaithful husband and a nasty divorce. Before her death Kate must have had a premonition that a) Ian would be lonely and b) he'd hit it off with Georgia. Ian fights his attraction to Georgia; he feels that any kind of incipient love would show disloyalty to Kate. But attraction is a complicated thing.

A novel that varies in tone from the sentimental to the mushy, unfolding predictably.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451231130
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 648,378
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Shors

John Shors traveled extensively throughout Asia after graduating from Colorado College in 1991, living for several years in Japan, where he taught English, and then trekking across the continent, visiting ten countries and climbing the Himalayas. More recently, Mr. Shors worked as a newspaper reporter in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, before entering public relations and moving to Boulder, Colorado. Beneath a Marble Sky is his first novel.

Biography

Published in 2004, John Shors' debut novel, Beneath a Marble Sky, was a major hit with critics from the start. An ambitious romance chronicling the lives of Emperor Shah Jahan the creator of the Taj Mahal, the wife for whom he built the legendary palace, and their daughter who falls in love with its architect, Beneath a Marble Sky was hailed as a major debut by publications ranging from the Des Moines Register to the India Post. Still, Shors' labor of love was not exactly soaring off of bookstore shelves. That's when the young author devised a radical, and radically personal, method of generating the kind of sales Beneath a Marble Sky deserved.

"I came up with the idea of putting the letter in the back of the paper back, with my e-mail address, and inviting book clubs to invite me to their evenings," Shors told CBS News. Soon enough, Shors was receiving scores of requests to visit local book clubs and speak about his novel. He also discovered that sales of Beneath a Marble Sky were on the rise. By November of 2006, Shors had visited over 200 clubs and was booked for many more through 2008.

Such ambition may be unusual in the world of publishing, but it is hardly new to Shors. Prior to penning Beneath a Marble Sky, he had traveled to Asia after years of studying creating writing and English at Colorado College. For three years, he taught English in Kyoto, Japan, but never able to remain still for long, he decided to exit his teaching post to backpack across the continent. Shors tramped through ten countries and scaled the mythic Himalayas in Nepal, but it was a 1999 sojourn in India that really altered the path of his life. "Seeing the wonder of the Taj Mahal, and understanding that a man built it for his wife -- a woman he cherished above all else in life -- was uniquely inspiring," Shors confided to Washington Independent Writers.org. "Indian poets have been writing about this love story for centuries. And yet, not many people in the West know the tale. I realized that I had to tell it. Quite honestly, I was amazed and delighted to discover upon my return to America that no one in the West had ever fictionalized the story."

Words such as "vivid" and "colorful" have been used to describe the epic that Shors' visit to the Taj Mahal inspired. Beneath a Marble Sky follows the life of Shah Jahan as he has the palace built for Mumtaz Mahal and they raise a bright girl named Jahanara, who not only learns the ins and outs of political thought from her father but also inherits is sense of romance. She ultimately falls in love with Isa the architect in charge of constructing the Taj Mahal and a man she is forbidden to wed.

Now that Shors is on the road again (of course, this time he is traversing America rather than exotic Asia), Beneath a Marble Sky is steadily becoming as much of a hit with readers as it had been with critics since its publication. The novel went on to average sales of 1,000 copies a week. Although he has quite a full plate with his numerous book club obligations, he is still managing to find time to begin work on his second novel. Despite such a daunting schedule, the ever-energetic Shors is marching ahead with typical gusto, enthusing to CBS News: "I'm excited to do so."

Good To Know

Shortly after its publication, Beneath a Marble Sky fell into the hands of actor Eriq La Salle, former star of TV's E.R. and currently head of a production company called Humble Journey Films. Shors told Washington Independent Writers.org. that La Salle's company "is very serious about making Beneath a Marble Sky into a major movie. They are making great progress and I'm cautiously optimistic that they'll pull it off."

Beneath a Marble Sky is both a book about world culture and a book that encourages world culture in a very practical way. Shors has arranged to donate a portion of the sales of his novel to the Children's International Summer Villages (CISV) a nonprofit organization promoting cultural understanding among people around the globe.

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Shors:

"I've been lucky enough to travel to five continents and many countries."

"While I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing (I edited Beneath a Marble Sky 56 times), I am a bit of a slob around the house."

"I cannot stand the feel of cotton balls, and our little girl constantly torments me by rubbing them against my skin."

"I'd like my readers to know that I sincerely and profoundly appreciate their support. The success of Beneath a Marble Sky has given me a great gift, and I hope to repay this gift by creating powerful novels for years to come. Additionally, if any reader has a particular question for me, I'll be delighted to answer her or his question. I can be reached at shors@aol.com and I'll happily write back to anyone who contacts me."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boulder, Colorado
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 4, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Des Moines, Iowa
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Colorado College, 1991
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Poignant

    One year may have passed since his beloved wife Kate died, but former executive Ian McCray has failed to move on with his life even knowing their tweener daughter Mattie needs him. Ian is stunned when he finds a letter written by Katie just before she died directing him to take Mattie on the tour of Asia that they had planned to go on to celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary. Katie also informed her surviving spouse that additional letters are inside of film canisters; she implores him to leave them sealed; opening them one at a time as father and daughter reached different countries.

    Although he wants to open all at once, he honors his beloved Katie by adhering to her instructions. The tour begins in Japan where the journey of Kate and Ian began when they fell in love. On the trek, Ian and Mattie try bonding, but neither can move beyond the glue that held the family together, Kate. The letters provide some solace but also remind father and daughter of how much they lost when his wife and her mother died.

    This is an interesting look at grief as both Ian and Mattie struggle to connect when each paints their lost loved one as even more nurturing than Mother Theresa; Kate's letters from the grave enhance that sense of an angelic paragon. The letters and Mattie's drawings add to much sweetener to the family drama mix especially the latter. Still fans will appreciate the saga of a father and daughter struggling with the death of the loved one who made them a family.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2014

    ZE for JA

    Wishing Trees is a heartwarming tale that asks the question, how far would you go to fulfill the last wishes of someone you love. This question is forced upon fortyish Ian McCray. He and his wife Kate had once served as traveling missionary slash educators throughout the Far East; from china to japan to india to africa and even egypt. When Kate dies of an undisclosed terminal illness, Ian is left without the love of his life and he must now care for their young daughter Mattie. Kate had always had more of an understanding of Mattie and passsed on the talent for art and seeing beauty in everything. Ian now feels a void between he and his daughter. But when he opens an old letter from Kate containing her last wishes, that he and Mattie take a trip through all the destinations where they helped out in their work together, Ian must find it within himself to revisit the memories of the past that he's fought so hard to drown in clinical denial, rather than face them head on. But Love for Kate spurs him on and in the process he and Mattie just might find that it is okay to move on with life and that with every loss comes a great renewal once you reach the end of the tunnel. This a first class act by a first class Author.





    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    'She couldn't soar if she didn't have faith.'

    John Shors is a Romanticist - and thank goodness there are still writers like John who are able to continually spin tales that revive the simplicity and beauty of that aspect of living that matters most: Love. Some authors can write romance novels that hold the concentration for the duration of the book. John Shors writes novels of romance that become embedded in the psyche and find a home there where they grow and influence the lives of those fortunate enough to have joined him on his journey. THE WISHING TREES is his fourth novel (Beneath a Marble Sky, Dragon Sky, Beside a Burning Sea) and this time the love story is one of a continued life after death that nourishes those left behind.

    Ian is an Australian businessman who has lost his wife Kate to an unnamed but cruel disease leaving him alone with his ten year old daughter Mattie. A year after Kate's death he discovers Kate left both Ian and Mattie with a collection of film canisters and a letter pleading with Ian to retrace the walkabout the two of them had shared fifteen years ago - this time taking Mattie along to help her understand the depth of love Ian and Kate had experienced and the joys they discovered. Mattie misses her mother desperately, yearning to forget the end of Kate's life as a series of tubes and paraphernalia of dying. The two decide they will fulfill Kate's plea and set out on a journey to replicate that taken long ago. They travel through Japan, Nepal, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Egypt, and obeying Kate's wishes they open a canister as they reach each destination. Inside each canister is a letter and poem that blossoms the beauty of each place. And in each place they tie a message (Mattie's drawings, notes, etc) to a tree - a wishing tree - so that Kate can experience the joys of the journey they have shared as she sees from beyond.

    That is simply the outline of the story. What lies within this book are the incidents, the joys, the little miracles, the people met, the engendered love that the journey provides, binding them together because of the healing of their loss through the guidance of Kate's spirit. Shors is able to describe in breathlessly beautiful prose the atmospheres and climes of each visited country because he has actually traveled to these places. His history of observations, visually and spiritually, enhance the quality of this story immeasurably. So once again John Shors has created a little miracle. Savour it!

    Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Heartwarming

    John Shors does it yet again. Through his descriptive writing he draws the reader into the story. He does this so well you actually feel like you're there! This is a heartwarming story about love and loss between a widower and his young daughter. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Motekit and Sparkkit (we wea Mortekit and Sparkkit (twin abandoned kits)

    We want to join. Please let us in. We will be very hardworking and catch prey for the clan when we are older. Right now we are both 2 moons old. We are twins. Motekit is dark black with firey orange specks and streaks on his pelt. Sparkkit is cloudy white with one tiny immensely bright orange dot on his forehead. We are caring and fun to play with( we play a ton!).

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    Picklepelt

    Ummm.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2012

    Hailkit from thunderclan

    Sorry for tesspassing, but your leader Skystar came to our camp and asked if someone could come here and tell Sandheart that Skystar cant rp anymore and that Sandheart is leader. Sorry for tresspassing! Goodbye!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    Quickstar

    Psh.... Your leader is NEVER ON ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Sandstar

    Of course you kits can join! (Sorry I have to eat and walk my dog now. Bye.)~Sandstar

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Skystorm

    Ok!

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This book is a must read!!

    I just finished reading The Wishing Trees and I have to say that I fell in love with this book. It really brings you into it and that's what a good book is suposed to do. I am going to read more of John Shors books and I hope that they are as good as this one. It really pulled on my heart strings, I cried, and I got a really warm, good feeling. He also brought out Asia in it's beauty. I recomend this book, you won't regret it!!!! It's very powerfull, emotional.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2011

    Amazing Read

    I was browsing through B&N one day and I came across this book. I absolutely loved it! I couldn't put it down and it is definitely a tear jerker, at least for me it was. It is well written and the story line is beautiful. I recommend this to anyone looking for a great book! I will be reading this again and am excited to be adding it to my book collection!

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  • Posted October 15, 2010

    Unforgettable

    I saw an online review of The Wishing Trees, which prompted me to buy the book. This is a wonderful, memorable story about a father and daughter's emotional and spiritual journey as they backpack around Asia together. This novel not only brought the characters to vivid life, but also places like the Taj Mahal, the Himalayas, the Nile, and so on. I journey with the characters and am grateful that I did.

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

    Beautiful

    I've read all of John Shors' novels (Beneath a Marble Sky, etc.), and am a big fan of his writing. His latest, The Wishing Trees, is lovely. It's the story of a widower and his ten-year-old daughter as they travel the world together. This is perhaps the most touching novel I have ever read. I'm telling everyone about it.

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  • Posted August 11, 2010

    Heartwarming

    This is a heartwarming novel of loss and love. It kind of reads like a Nicholas Sparks novel, except that it's set overseas, and the love is between a father and a daughter. The ending is quite moving and powerful.

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    Posted May 22, 2011

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    Posted July 4, 2011

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    Posted July 25, 2011

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    Posted July 14, 2011

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    Posted August 27, 2011

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews

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