Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Wishing Trees; John Shors

Title: The Wishing Trees
Author: John Shors
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: New American Library (Penguin Group)
Edition: trade softcover 
Source: author 
Date Completed: 3/19/2011
Setting: Asia
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommend: Yes

The Wishing Trees tells a story of  love, loss, grieving and moving on.  Ian and his young, ten year-old daughter Mattie, are mourning the loss of Kate, Ian's wife and Mattie's mother.  In the months preceding her death, Kate wrote letters which she hoped would bring comfort to Ian and Mattie after she had passed.  As Ian's birthday approaches, he discovers a box of film canisters letters, and letters.  In the letter that she has instructed him to open first, Kate sends her love to Ian, she tells him what he meant to her, and how much she loved both he and Mattie. She urges him to take their daughter on a trip to Asia, retracing the places where the two of them traveled some fifteen years earlier; the places where they fell in love.

Ian and Mattie do what Kate requested, and the two journey to various Asian countries:  Japan,  Hong Kong, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, India, and Egypt.  On their journey, they follow a Japanese tradition of leaving paper "wishes" hanging from  trees. The "wishes" come in the form of notes, poems and drawings, and serve as a way, from them to connect with Kate.

Along their journey, Ian and Mattie connect with many many people who share their wisdom and help them deal with their grief and aid in the healing process.  Their journey is not only a way to remember Kate, but it serves it helps them to create their own new memories in the process.

I loved the way the locales throughout Asia were so vividly described. I felt like I visited the Taj Mahal myself. The novel read in some ways like a travelogue, yet the reader easily sees what Kate's intentions really were. She helps the two people who she loved the most to deal with their loss, and to begin the healing process, by creating new memories to treasure.

I liked this novel, because the writing was wonderful, and I enjoy stories that help others to deal with their grief.  In this story, I occasionally felt like it was overly sentimental, and while I did like the novel, I wished I gotten to know a few of the people who helped Ian and Mattie along their journey a bit better. Despite this it is still a worthwhile read.

As with his previous novel, Dragon House, the author has designated that a portion of the proceeds from each novel sold will go a worthwhile charity. Mr. Shors has chosen the "Arbor Day Foundation", as his charity of choice for The Wishing Trees.


  1. This sounds magical. I hope to read it soon.

  2. This book is already on my list to read and your review further piqued my interest in reading it. I enjoy travel books so I like the idea of the character's journey combined with a travel book. The way the characters connect with Kate is unique and interesting, too and I want to see how that plays out in the story.
    I wasn't aware prior that the author donates part of his book proceeds. I think this is terrific thing to do.
    Thank you, I enjoyed your review!

  3. I've really loved the previous novels of John Shors and knew right from the start when seeing his name as the author that Asia must play a part in the story. Lucky girl getting an ARC! Thanks for sharing, the book sounds wonderful!

    Chick with Books

  4. Sounds very nice and it's great that part of the proceeds go to charity. Hey, I wouldn't mind having a wishing tree!

  5. This is one that I have been meaning to read. Dar wrote an awesome review of this one a while back and now with your glowing review, it's on my must read books for 2011.

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I have it to review, but haven't gotten to it yet. I love books where the surroundings are vividly described.

  7. This sounds so lovely and touching. It makes me wish we could all take a similar journey to help us grieve.

  8. Shors has some really great books out there, and it sounds like this is one that fits that bill perfectly. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it and may have to investigate it soon!

  9. I think that this author is one that I would really enjoy reading, especially this book.

  10. A friend gave me this book, and you've made me really want to read it. I love when an author really puts you in the scene.

  11. Great review Diane. I really enjoyed this one from John. I'm curious to see what his next will be.

  12. This sounds so sweet. I've been meaning to read one of his books and actually have a couple. They all sound very different but really good. Enjoyed your review!

  13. *gulped* This nearly got me teary-eyed. The letters reminded me slightly of what Gerry Kennedy (Holly's departed hubby)did in P.S. I Love You but the similarities ended there and the story went on about remembrance and healing between the father and his daughter. Nice. :D


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