Review

The Wishing Tree

by Marybeth Whalen

Ivy Copeland Marshall is not having a great day. Her marriage has been heading south, her father just announced he’s closing the real estate office she manages, and while driving home, she sees her husband leaving an apartment complex when he’s supposed to be at work. The icing on the cake is the announcement that her sister is getting engaged to Mr. Perfect…on television!

Just when Ivy thinks she has hit rock bottom, her mother asks her to return to her hometown of Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to help plan her sister’s wedding. This is not an unreasonable request under normal circumstances, but when Ivy broke her engagement to Michael and married Elliot, she bolted from Sunset Beach, shattering Michael’s heart and her family relationships. Going back to her parents’ house means facing broken ties that are easier to handle from a distance…until another tie breaks right where she’s standing. Elliot’s cousin confirms Ivy’s worst fear --- that Elliot had an affair. Suddenly, Sunset Beach sounds like a better alternative than staying home. Once there, Ivy’s mother puts her in charge of a family wedding tradition, the wishing tree, which will unexpectedly help guide her through the complex process of fixing ties that have been broken for far too long.

"THE WISHING TREE is a pleasant story about love, forgiveness, faith and the complexities of relationships."

Ivy has not returned to Sunset Beach in the five years since she left her fiancé and married Elliot. Family and friends were shocked by the turn of events, especially since Ivy and Michael had known each other since they were kids. Everyone thought they were “perfect” together. Both sets of parents were planning the wedding even before Michael popped the question. But when Ivy went solo on a skiing trip and met Elliot, her heart jumped from its comfort zone to a new and exciting place. None of her friends or family attended the wedding, and relationships with them remained strained. Now her marriage was strained as well --- possibly over --- and Ivy had no comfort zone in either place.

Elliot’s constant calls and emails go unanswered by Ivy. He resorts to Twitter, daily professing his love for her, apologizing for his one-time affair and begging forgiveness. Ivy does not respond, but the tweets quickly gain a following of supporters. While Elliot tries in vain to get Ivy’s attention, Michael has succeeded without any effort. Ivy had forgotten how handsome he was, how nice, how achingly perfect for her. Feeling like her marriage to Elliot may have been a mistake, Ivy wonders if she and Michael could still have a future.

Ivy tries to ignore Elliot’s tweets, but curiosity gets the best of her. His love for her and shame at his unfaithfulness rings loud and clear in his simple messages. She is torn between the love they once shared and the newly rekindled feelings she has for Michael. Her feelings for her former fiancé are not as easily reciprocated, as Michael’s healing process has been long and difficult. He was finally moving on, ready to leave Ivy in the past, when she suddenly appeared on the scene, alluding to a future together.

While Ivy tries to sort out her feelings for Elliot and Michael, she is simultaneously dealing with the tattered relationships between herself and her sister and mother. Her quick departure from Sunset Beach five years prior had left no room for healing. Could it still happen? Was forgiveness still a possibility?

THE WISHING TREE is a pleasant story about love, forgiveness, faith and the complexities of relationships. Slower-paced but still with enough movement to hold a reader’s interest, this novel would make a nice summer beach read.

Reviewed by Susan Miura on June 14, 2013

The Wishing Tree
by Marybeth Whalen