The Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen

Monday, July 8, 2013

About the Book
Author: Marybeth Whalen
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2013
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Novels seeped in an emotional fallback put in play a lot of unresolved fallout and is prone to open new wounds. Even inside a synopsis that I, as a reader cannot relate to, The Wishing Tree is – mostly, a "good" novel full of second chances and forgiveness. I liked Marybeth’s ability to write a heart-tugging story and the setting of the book. Descriptive surroundings backdrop the characters, lending a pretty haven as their home, which in turn opens the door to some great pose writing during walks along the beach. Stories that involve a cheating spouse like Ivy Marshall discovers of her husband (just when she leaves for her sister’s wedding, no less) needs to be carefully written. Particularly those on the Christian market. For myself as a single girl, I have definite opinions on the “right” and “wrong” of an affair – opinions that go beyond even an affair since I don’t buy into all the clichés that men generally fall into, and in no way find it “okay” even if it was one night and not a long standing relationship. Whalen certainly took care with the subject by choosing the former to be the sin of Ivy’s husband. But, should even that transgression be considered lightly?

Also a pleasant plot that furthers the story in a positive way is the relationship between Shea (Ivy’s sister) and her fiancé Owen. It’s flawed and may leave some readers questioning her saying ‘I do’ to Owen however I found it genuinely acceptable. Getting to know the aunt, Leah was charming as well; she was probably the most consistent character of the bunch, and I found the tradition which this centers around, sweet. Some of the wishes were genuinely touching, lending a feeling of sincerity to scenes that many have otherwise been empty. As a tweeter, I enjoyed the Twitter angle the story played up no matter how small, however the good probably doesn’t outweigh the questions. 
Once the novel draws to a close and it’s transparently obvious who is giving whom a second chance, sticking with Ivy’s point-of-view seemed the logical choice yet still I regretted the lack of a boy-girl POV switch-off. It was a missed opportunity, especially since the middle of the novel lagged in interest which I ascribe to a one-person perspective. A reader can only find interest in a characters “lies” and regret of doing so or their conscious being troubled for so long (thoughts that turn repetitive) before something has got to give. In this case, it’s at the expense of the main protagonist – instead of being someone we can applaud, she morphs into the victim who uses her husband as the “excuse” for her attitude instead of her being more proactive.

Whalen also played a dangerous game with Ivy trying to spark up a relationship with an ex-fiancé again. His actions deserved praise, hers were often just on the edge of going “too far” - or these was always a question mark at the end of her conversation with him, and that is not a feeling I personally want to have of a heroine. 
By the time I turned the last page of this novel, my mind had run the gauntlet of emotions on this one; I felt like I had a love/hate relationship with it. Seriously – this is one book I have to file under the purview of having mixed emotions on (perhaps even reaching a new high of this statement). Starting out, I really liked it. The story was easy to read and I accepted Ivy’s reactions and attitude early on. When her lies, flirting and unnecessary “confusion” factored into chapter after chapter, I began to feel less care for what would eventually happen. Until approximately eighty percent through the book, I was unsure how everything would end, which is a testament to Marybeth Whalen’s writing, but I cannot say that the ending left me “happy.” The alternate wasn’t the healthiest either, but a third option not even hinted at could have made things simpler. Feeling empty at the end of a book is not something any reader wishes for.

Book Trailer
Synopsis: Savvy, determined Ivy Marshall discovers that her husband has cheated on her on the very same day her sister’s perfect boyfriend proposes on national television. When Ivy’s mother asks her to return to her family’s beach home to plan her sister’s upcoming wedding, she decides to use the excuse to escape from the pain of her broken heart.

 When her return to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, brings Ivy face to face with her former fiancé, old feelings are rekindled and she wonders if there is a future for them. However, when Ivy refuses to talk to her husband, he resorts to tweeting to her, expressing his remorse and making it clear he doesn’t want to give up on their marriage. As she helps prepare the wishing tree for her sister’s wedding, she must examine her dreams for her own future and what true love should be.

With thanks to Booksneeze and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes


  1. It's not easy to have mixed feelings over a book, is it? I've read stories and felt the same way and then to try to describe exactly why I feel that way? Can be very hard!

    I haven't been able to convince myself to try this one yet. Not on account of your review, I felt this way before. And it's nothing even against Ms. Whalen, because I don't think I've read any of her books before. Stories dealing with divorce and affairs, etc, I tend to be careful about reading. Or I try to be anyway. Perhaps the cons you mentioned were part of my hesitancy. Either way, I'll probably not read this one right now.

    But nicely written review! :)

    1. Funny you should mention steering clear of stories dealing with affairs or divorces because I was just reading a conversation about the topic. I don't take issue with divorces (most of the time) so long as it's not because a character "felt like it" - or in other words, so long as the author puts it into the story for a reason (like the woman was being mistreated or their was an affair, etc.). To clarify, I don't believe in divorce because I think that a relationship should be approached differently than society says, so when I "date," I'm not going to take it lightly.

      Affairs on the other hand, I am a harsh critic of.

      Oh, gosh, it's hard when a readers reaction is so mixed at the end. Usually the scales tip more one way or another - either I "mostly" liked a book, or mostly didn't. This one baffled me. I shouldn't have liked it as well as I did, yet there was something "interesting" and compelling in part about the premise. Basically, I don't think Ivy was a great leading lady, and that was disappointing.

      Thanks for reading, Kara!

  2. Replies
    1. I know - my reaction also, Juju. Started out great, then sort of fizzled out. *sigh* Never a fun ending.

  3. Rissi - Great review! I too had mixed feelings, and my review (posted earlier today) reflects it. I felt like it was all jumbled. You, however, seem to have put into words what I was trying to say ... but couldn't quite figure out how. :)

    1. Hey, Brooke! Thanks for stopping by. :) Didn't see your review, so now, of course, I will be coming by to see it - and I am sure you summed it all up just fine. Been wondering if any more reviews for this one would show up as I think it wasn't a popular choice in our book circles. Thanks for reading!


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