The lives of 12-year-old Lou Cardinal and her eight-year-old brother, Oscar (“Oz”), are forever altered when an auto accident takes the life of their writer father and leaves their mother in a catatonic state. Used to the hectic bustle of New York City, they find themselves transplanted to the mountain cabin home of their great-grandmother, Louisa Mae Cardinal. Their new home has no electricity or running water, and their food comes not from any grocery store but from the barn and the land. Their new neighbors are simple folk, many of them poor, uneducated, and worked to the bone. But beneath them all is The Mountain, with its power to mesmerize and nurture their minds and their souls.
Though Lou rebels against her new life at first, she eventually grows to appreciate her hardscrabble existence, rising before dawn to milk the cows, attending school in a one-room schoolhouse, and then working till dusk to prepare, plant, and harvest crops. Her great-grandmother’s simple lifestyle, boundless spirit, and obvious love of The Mountain become contagious. But there is plenty of ugliness here, too, not the least of which is the pervasive poverty and prejudicial ignorance subscribed to by some. When a greedy corporate entity enters the picture, Baldacci takes his readers into territory more familiar, culminating the tale in a highly satisfying David-and-Goliath-style courtroom battle.
The title is an apt one, a reference to Oz and Lou’s childish wishes and their belief in things wondrous and magical, a belief that often slams up against the harsh truths of reality. Yet in the end, something magical does prevail. And although all the characters in this tale may not survive, the mystical allure of The Mountain and its effect on those who come to know it, does.
Source: From Goodreads
I picked this book from our library; as it was this month’s book club choice. I have read quite a few works by David Baldacci but “Wish You Well” looked nothing similar to his other works and I had my inhibitions. From the reviews I knew this was a family drama set in the mountains of Virginia. Baldacci being a local author (born in Richmond, VA) I knew I had to take my chances, hoping he would engross me; only this time differently.
The story setting moves from New York to the mountains in Virginia when Lou’s dad and award-winning writer dies in a car accident. It describes the life of Lou and her brother Oz after being thrust to be cared by their great-grandmother in the mountains far away from civilization. The story has excellent promise and has all the emotional elements of friendship, trust, sadness, loss, truth, love and victory in the right proportions. The clear descriptions of the people, events and locations made me feel the book and not just read it.
The characters were marvelous (and I rarely use this word). Lou mostly plays the part of a mature stubborn child, but when situation demands alternates to the 12-year-old kid. The sibling love and understanding is simply adorable. Great Grandma Louisa Mae Cardinal is a woman of character who shows superior strength when she needs to stand up for a cause she believes in. She is a giver by nature and manages to leave a pleasant mark in us. I was deeply upset when she passes away and hoped that the author would have allowed the wishing well to grant Lou’s wish. For me, all of the characters were impeccable; there was not one person or situation that I felt was out-of-place.
It has been a while since I read a family drama but this one has touched me like never before. A big 5 on 5 and take time to feel this one.