The Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen
Published by Zondervan
Review copy provided by the author

When Ivy Marshall learns that her husband is cheating on her and that she is effectively losing her job in the same day, she thinks things couldn’t possibly get worse. But later that day, her younger sister’s boyfriend proposes to her on national TV, prompting Ivy’s mother to invite her home to help with wedding planning. Reluctantly, Ivy agrees to return to her mother’s home in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, hopeful that the escape from her real life will be just the break she needs to sort out her feelings about her husband and heal from the pain he caused her. Waiting for her in North Carolina is her ex-fiance, provoking Ivy to revisit feelings she thought she moved on from years ago, while at the same time her husband has decided he wants to save their marriage, and has resorted to tweeting his undying love for Ivy for all the world to see.

As Ivy helps her mother prepare the family tradition of a wishing tree for her sister’s wedding, she is forced to confront her own past and make some serious decisions about what she wants for her future.

I have to get this out of the way first: Marybeth Whalen is a seriously sweet, funny, smart, fantastic person. I met her at SIBA and last year’s UCF Book Festival and ever since I’ve been dying to read one of her books. I was nervous, of course, because what if I didn’t like her books? But I shouldn’t have worried – The Wishing Tree is an incredibly charming, sweet novel – one that I read while spending a long day at the beach, the perfect setting for this kind of book.

Anyway, Ivy is the kind of character readers will fall in love with. She has been through a difficult situation, and is forced to have her sister’s perfect life thrown in her face just when she’s come to realize how NOT perfect her own life has become. She’s real in that she deals with her heartbreak the best way she knows how and she refuses to let her pride get in the way of helping with the wedding like the good daughter/sister she is (even though she would like to run screaming from the whole wedding situation).

But she’s flawed, too, as the reader learns as the book progresses. See, things with her ex weren’t exactly ended in the most proper way, and unfortunately the way Ivy chose to end things estranged her from much of her family and many of her childhood friends. So when she does see her ex again, after being apart for something like ten years, it’s no surprise that her old feelings resurface and she begins to question the decision she made to leave him all those years ago. It becomes almost like a love triangle, with the man who wronged her wanting her back and Ivy herself maybe wanting back the man she wronged. Who will she choose? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Something to know about The Wishing Tree is that it’s technically considered Christian Fiction. I almost hesitate to say that because the God stuff is SO light that it’s barely noticeable. Basically it makes the sweetness of the story just a teeny bit sweeter. BUT if you shy away from CF but typically enjoy women’s fiction, please give The Wishing Tree a chance. It’s basically women’s fiction with a touch of God sprinkled in.

I’m glad I finally read one of Whalen’s books because I really did enjoy The Wishing Tree. It was a perfect way for me to spend a beachy summer day, and I’m looking forward to picking up some of her other novels. Recommended for those who enjoy light, fun summer reads and/or women’s fiction.