The Wishing Trees

The Wishing Trees

by John Shors


View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 6 days


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...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451231130
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2010
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 785,358
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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.


Boulder, Colorado

Date of Birth:

March 4, 1969

Place of Birth:

Des Moines, Iowa


B.A. in English, Colorado College, 1991

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'

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Wishing Trees 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
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
signrock on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Early Reviewers book, and I was so excited to read it. A man with an Australian accent, an adored wife lost too early, the family left behind working together to learn to live without her, secret letters that are to be shared at specific moments. What more can you ask for? Unfortunately, my excitement faded once I started reading it. As much as I wanted to love this book, I just could not do it. It is a rare experience for me to avoid my quite time with my book. Finishing this story felt far more a chore than a joy. I expected to feel the emotional bond a much loved wife and mother leaves to her family, though their experiences, tug at my heart. Instead I felt as if everything was just too over the top sweet and perfect, which made it seem very unrealistic. It actually became annoying, since life just does not work that way. Problems unraveled too easily, and situations just fell into place to neatly.
Kikoa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I felt as if I opened some ones travel diary. I felt as other reviewers felt, that some of the dialog seemed contrived and forced instead of being as an actual give and take between people. Please drop the Australian accent. This is my first John Shors books. I do not want to judge him on this one, so I will seek out something else.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ian, Mattie and Kate were a happy family. Ian and Kate had met years before the story began, while both teaching English in Japan. They traveled to exotic places, fell in love and married. Along came little Mattie, and life was good. Then illness truck, and carried Kate away. Left alone with a young daughter, Ian was not sure what to do. The family had owned a small and successful business. The sale of the business allowed Ian to be at home with his daughter. It also allowed him to honor a last request of Kate's. One day, months after her death.. Ian opened a package she had left for him. Inside he found a letter asking him to take Mattie and retrace their travels in Japan, Thailand, India, and other places. Each new country brought with it a note for Ian and Mattie, left behind by Kate. Each letter brought them both heartache and joy. The two of them carried on, however and both found many reasons to be thankful that they had undertaken the journey, which brought them to an end wished for and in some way manipulated into being by Kate. I wanted to give this book a higher rating. I wanted to like it more. It is full of good intention, and descriptions of good works done by the two travelers. But Ian's Australian accent seemed cartoonish and forced. There were some interesting comments about each place visited that seemed as if they were pulled from travelogues. The whole story seemed to be a showplace for offering idea on how to help others, and be good people. It was sweet. Very sweet. To me a three star rating means that it is a good solid read, and that I am glad I read it. I just couldn't go quite that far with this book. To say that I am glad I read it would be overstating the case. Lets just say that I got thought it none the worse for wear.
LizTowne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful novel about a father and daughter who travel the world together.
KC9333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wife and mother dies of a terrible illness and from her death bed writes letters to her family. She asks her husband and young daughter to travel to all her favorite places and has additional letters waiting. We ache for these two lost souls as they try to put their lives back together. The book is most fun and interesting as we join the characters exploring new cultures. When the father loses his daughter in a crowded Indian street , his panic literally jumps off the page. However the author's message of doing good is heavy handed at times . Solving the complicated problems of poverty can not always be wrapped up so easily. Note: the author does use some profits from his book for charitable causes - listed at the end of the book.Overall entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking, but in the end a light read. Recommended
Kimaoverstreet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On her deathbed, Kate writes a letter to her husband, Ian, to be opened on his birthday, nearly a year after her death. The letter instructs him to take a trip abroad with their ten-year-old daughter, Mattie, retracing the early days of Kate and Ian's relationship. With some reservations, the desperately grieving Ian plans the journey. In each country, Mattie and Ian have a cannister to open, containing a note from Kate.This is a novel of beautiful prose that includes lovely bits of local color from each of Ian and Mattie's destinations. It explores the issue of grief with compassion and wisdom. That being said, I found the story to syrupy sweet and romantic for my liking. Ian's Australian speech seemed overdone and the characters too perfect.
lyncos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To fulfil the request of his deceased wife Kate, Ian takes their 10 year-old daughter Mattie on a trip through Japan, Nepal, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Egypt. The trip retraces the route that the Kate and Ian had travelled fifteen years earlier. Through their cultural experiences on this trip and the tying of written wishes on ¿wishing trees¿ they are able to begin their recovery from the loss of Kate and find a way to move on into the future.This is a heart warming and poignant novel.
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love John Shors' books. I was so excited to read this one. I did enjoy reading this one, but I still love the other books I have read by this author more. I loved that it explored many different countries and explored the theme of how can we help others. Ian and Mattie are wonderful characters. I really liked them, although Ian was a bit one-dimentional to me. He was almost too perfect in his love and devotion to his wife, Kate, who passed away. In that sense, it was a bit unbelievable. If you are okay with taking that leap that he took his daughter on a trip to across the world as his dying wife's wish, then you are ready to explore the different lands they travel through. The structure of the story is a journey. As they travel through the different countries they meet wonderful people and people that they strive to help. I loved meeting these characters with Ian and Mattie. Sometimes, I wished for more information on these people and at times the converstations seemed to be more to inform than an actual conversation may occur naturally (but I was okay with that). I just focused on the information that Shors gave me. The book made me want to travel and especially travel to countries that are not traditional vacation spots.
saratoga99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The redeeming aspects of this book are John Shors exquisite writing, his obviously personal and extensive knowledge of the locales that Ian and Mattie travel to: Japan, Nepal, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Egypt, as well as the gentle evocative manner in which he infused the rite of passage within these vastly diverse milieus.Although Kate, Mattie, and Ian are the main proponents in this narrative, I felt the most memorable characters were those encountered on a life-affirming journey orchestrated by the beloved mother and wife Kate¿s letter to be read almost one year after her death.An unexpected encounter with a Japanese school teacher with her students proves to be enlightening for Mattie and Ian. Akiko and her mother Chie offer compassion and hospitality with their peaceful, yet comforting traditions.In Nepal, Leslie and her two exuberant cohorts reveal humanity by their Peace Corps¿ commitment. Rupee, a young boy deemed untouchable in India experiences a kindness that renders him speechless, grateful, and so endearing that I would adopt him.Hong Kong with its selected affected affluence as well as its egocentric activities left me unimpressed.The humble driver Khan in Vietnam who provides a future for children disabled by post-war embedded bombs with his hand-crafted crutches, seeking nothing in return.Rashidi, despite the lack of family approaching the last stages of his life in Egypt, full of wisdom displays a quiet courage.These unique characters I shall remember. Unable to discern why so many readers found The Wishing Trees highly commendable, I felt totally drained reading this book and could not calm the emotional void experienced by such a predictable closure.
rglossne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried, I really did. But I could not take one more page of sappy dialog, over the top sentimentality, and unrelenting sweetness. Not at all my cup of tea. Mattie was written as though she was 6, not ten. Ian's Australian accent seemed fake. And where does a dying woman get all the time and presence of mind to write poetry and direct a trip her loved ones are to take after she is gone? Not credible, not at all uplifting, entertaining, or any of the other things I look for in a book.
erinclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really, really wanted to like this book because I am a big fan of John Shors writing, but I can't say that I really enjoyed it much. Ian's Australian accent drove me bonkers, why Australian??? What reasoning for this silly character affectation??? And the story while in the end is life affirming was so, so sad. Everywhere Ian and Mattie went, each country they visited they cried, cried and then cried some more. Boo hoo, too much for me I'm afraid. Stop with the tears will you? And Ian needs to see a doctor, he pops antacids like jelly beans! Maybe a therapist would be a better choice - he was always so stressed about... what? never quite got that, take a breather buddy. On the plus side I did like the description of the countries they visited and I like the fact that the author had first hand knowledge of the places they visited. I also liked the fact that they tried to help others as they traveled from place to place, although I think this might be more difficult to accomplish in real life than it was for them. But then again - it is a story, right? I do like the fact that the author is donating from sales of this book to the arborist society (I think) or some organization that plants trees. Nice touch. Anyway, I gave it two and a half stars because some of the characters characteristics just annoyed me too much and the plot was overly sappy. I was excited when I started it, but by the time I finished it I was done with Ian and Mattie for good.
jcwlib on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
riofriotex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gave this book a good 100+ pages but just could not go on. Too sad and sappy and repetitive. Ian's Australian accent got to be annoying.
icedream on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I enjoy a book because the setting is so descriptive that it takes me away and The Wishing Trees is one of those books. The beautiful writing makes up for the somewhat sappiness of the story. I love a good tear-jerker but I'm sorry to say that this book couldn't quite pull that off, overall though it was a lovely story.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really disliked this book and was not able to finish. It had a decent premise, dying wife and mother leaves behind letters for her husband and daughter to read on a trip she requests them to take after her death. But it was very, very sappy, too sappy even for this plot. I liked the daughter, but the father really annoyed me. Maybe I was more annoyed by the Australian accent the writer gave him and the cutesy and regional way that he spoke.I did like the travel part, that was interesting but I could not get past the sappiness and annoyances of the father. That would have made a huge difference.
MsGemini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Wishing Trees is an endearing story about a father and daughter relationship.Ian's wife Kate passed away about a year ago. Prior to her death, Kate writes a letter to Ian. After reading this letter, Ian and his daughter Mattie go on a journey. They travel away from America and visit several countries. These various places all played and important part in Kate and Ian's life together.At first, I thought this story was going to be all about traveling. It ended up being so much more!It is a touching and emotional story of relationships and healing. I learned so much about Ian and Mattie, what they were feeling, the type of people they are and how much Kate meant to each of them.The writing style is impressive with vivid descriptions and real emotion throughout the entire book.I highly recommend this wonderful book.
jsprenger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Honoring his deceased wife's wishes, Ian takes their daughter on a journey that retraces Kate's and Ian's relationship. At first, I thought this book was going to be about travelling, but I was sooooo.... wrong. This is a story about grief, and searching for happiness. Shors descriptions of their destinations and the people are so vivid, and accurate. I felt that I was there with them. This emotional, gripping tale is worth the read. I highly recommend it.
nnjmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost a year after Ian¿s wife Kate dies, he opens a letter from her that makes a request of him. Kate wants Ian to take Mattie, their ten-year-old daughter, on a trip through Asia ¿ a trip that they had planned to all take together, before Kate¿s cancer derailed their plans and their lives. Mattie and Ian are treading water, barely keeping their heads afloat in a sea of grief. Ian is learning how to be a father; Mattie is trying to find her place in a world that no longer holds the person she was closest to. Ian is convinced that Kate is asking too much. How can he take Mattie to the places he once visited with Kate? To the place they met, the place he proposed, the countries and cities where they fell in love? And yet, how can he refuse his late wife¿s last request?There are certain authors whose books I want to sink down into, to wrap myself in the beauty of their words. John Shors is one of those authors for me. When I started The Wishing Trees, I was immediately pulled into the story. I fell in love with Ian, and especially with the tender, creative Mattie. Knowing the book would be over all to soon, I tried to ration it out, reading only a chapter a day. As much as I wanted the book to last, though, I couldn¿t do it. When I wasn¿t reading it, I was thinking of Ian and Mattie, of the way they were finding their way to each other, of the amazing places they were seeing.It is very obvious when reading The Wishing Trees that John Shors has not only been to the countries he describes, but that he loves them: their vistas, their culture, their people. As I read, I traveled along with Ian and Mattie, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.While The Wishing Trees is about grief over the losses of the past, it is also a book full of hope for the future. I love the relationship Ian is building with his daughter as he learns how to parent her on his own. His respect for her feelings, his desire to truly know her as a person and not simply as his child, is admirable. This book vividly illustrates the struggle a widowed parent goes through ¿ the need to balance one¿s own grief with the need to care for a child. How do you allow yourself the time to mourn and work toward healing when you have a young person who is looking to you to meet every single need, and who needs to find her own path to healing?Not many authors can get inside the head of a child and write believably from their point of view, but Shors can. Mattie became dear to me as I read. My heart ached for her overwhelming loss, and I admired her desire to reach out and help those less fortunate than her, because that¿s what her mom would have done.This is by far my favorite of the three John Shors books I¿ve read. I closed it with reluctance, knowing that the characters would continue to live in my thoughts for days. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago