RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Wish You Well, by David Baldacci and Norma Lana (Narrator)

Wish You Well

David Baldacci is known for his suspense novels, but this book is not of that genre. Jack Cardinal, an award winning writer, is driving back to New York City with his wife Amanda, and their children, 12-year-old Louisa Mae, who answers to Lou, and seven-year-old Oscar, who is called Oz. A crash kills Jack and leaves his wife wheelchair ridden and in a catatonic state. The children are unharmed but now homeless. Their only relative, Jack's grandmother who raised him, lives on a farm atop a dome mountain in the Appalachians of Virginia. Louise Mae Cardinal, who is 80 years old and was born and raised on the farm, welcomes her kin and teaches them how to be part of their new life. The youngsters, who have never seen their great grandparent, now must live with her on the farm and learn to adapt to a life much different life from the one they'd known in New York City. Once on the farm, Lou and Oz find that life now starts at 5 a.m. and ends when darkness falls. They learn that to survive this kind of life means becoming part of it -- milk the cows, slop the hogs, feed the livestock and chickens, haul wood for the stove and bring water in from the springs.

Baldacci does a masterful job of using his descriptive words as if he were wielding a paint brush to create pictures of the beauty of the mountain scenes. He enables one to feel the beauty of the sky, both at day and night, to sense the forest of towering pines, elms and hemlocks, to see the clusters of white birch in fields of flowering mountain laurel and to see birds hovering over dogwood trees. The pictures become so clear, all they seem to need are frames so they could be hung on a wall. If the warm, touching story and beautiful descriptions weren't enough to recommend this audio book, the narration is outstanding, too. The reader, Norma Lana, is excellent in bringing voice and personality to each of the characters.

Baldacci has shown his skills as one of the best of suspense novelists, but in this book he writes a beautiful story describing rural life in the 1940s in Virginia. It shows how life can change in an instant, leaving people to face entirely new lives. In one split second, life for the youngsters and their mother goes from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair. The story includes many of the elements that face people each day as life goes on and shows how they deal with them in order to survive. From its tragic beginning to the warm and welcome conclusion it is worth every moment spent listening to it.
All told, this is a book not to be missed.

John Mormon

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