I’ve been a fan of John Shors for a while now. He has such a beautiful way with words that never fails to capture my attention from the beginning of one of his novels to the end. The Wishing Trees, his latest, is no different. It is a heart felt story of a father and daughter’s journey through Asia that heals both their spirits and their hearts.
Ian and his ten year old daughter Mattie are struggling to go on after the death of Kate. She was the glue that held the family together while Ian worked endless hours trying to make a better life for his family. It’s a year later and with Kate’s death Ian is at a loss as to how to make his daughter smile and laugh again. He has plenty of money and has given up his job to spend time with Mattie but he is still so deep in the throes of grief that it is difficult for him to see past that.
Then something happens that changes both Ian and Mattie’s lives. Kate has left a letter with her final wishes which are for Ian to take Mattie on a trip across Asia – a trip that they had planned to take on their fifteenth wedding anniversary. There are cannisters for each of them to open in each new country they visit with her thoughts on her feelings for them and in some cases, what she wishes for them to do while there. In each place they visit Mattie, a very talented budding artist, ties a message on A Wishing Tree – whether it be her drawings or notes – to share the experience with Kate to see from the heavens above.
The trip is something Ian is skeptical about. He feels Mattie is too young to be traveling to some of these countries but eager to put a smile on his daughter’s face they embark on the journey that will ultimately change their future. Ian is eager to show his daughter places that he and her mother shared together and also to teach her the importance of helping those less fortunate than they are. Mattie, a youngster already with a heart of gold, is willing and eager to help others. In doing so, she ends up meeting Rupee, a friend she will have for life.
This novel is steeped in emotion. There is no way it couldn’t be. The idea of a mother leaving notes and wishes as Kate did for her family is heart wrenching, yet so beautiful. To share those last thoughts and overwhelming love you had for your child and husband in such a way is a memory they will have with them forever. It was also a way for both Ian and Mattie to heal. Ian had no choice but to try and live again as he was out of his comfort zone of home where he could just curl up and pretend everything was ok. On the trip, both he and Mattie had to face their grief and find a way to get beyond it.
I really don’t think I can do this novel justice. It is beautiful. The love that shines through between Ian, Mattie, and the passed on Kate is just so heart felt. You can literally feel the love through the pages. To share in the father/daughter relationship of Ian and Mattie and the way that they find a way back to each other and learn to go on being only the two of them is something I won’t soon forget. Kate’s mission was to show her little family that it was possible to heal, to love again, and to move on and still live a fulfilling life even without her.
I enjoyed every minute of this novel even the ones that made me reach for my box of kleenex. The journey I was taken on through many different countries: Japan, Nepal, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Egypt was incredible. John makes you feel like you are right there experiencing all the sights, sounds, food and people right along with the characters in the novel. Even more amazing was the journey John Shors takes you through with your very own emotions. You can’t help but be deeply touched by this novel.
I’d like to thank you John for another wonderful novel in The Wishing Trees and the opportunity to read it. You can pick up your own copy of The Wishing Trees by John Shors here in the US and here in Canada. You can visit John Shors’ website as well and check out all his other novels. Be sure to pop into Peeking Between the Pages tomorrow as I have a great guest post from author John Shors to share with you.
Disclosure: My copy of The Wishing Trees by John Shors was received for review from the author.
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