The Wishing Trees

The Wishing Trees

4.6 22
by John Shors, Jefferson Mays
     
 

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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,

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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...

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.)
From the Publisher
"John Shors' The Wishing Tree is an affecting and sensitively rendered study of grief and loss, the healing power of artistic expression, and the life- altering rewards of travel to distant lands. I was deeply moved by this poignant and life-affirming novel."
-Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone and Wishin' and Hopin'
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:
9781449856632
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
03/17/2011

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"John Shors' The Wishing Tree is an affecting and sensitively rendered study of grief and loss, the healing power of artistic expression, and the life- altering rewards of travel to distant lands. I was deeply moved by this poignant and life-affirming novel."
-Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone and Wishin' and Hopin'

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