Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wish You Well - David Baldacci

I usually think of David Baldacci's novels as full of legal and political intrigue. This one, however, focuses on 13-year old Lou and her younger brother Oz. Their father is a famous, but not so well compensated writer, who sets all his novels in the mountains of Virginia where he was born and raised. When their family suffers a heart-breaking tragedy, Lou and Oz travel to those mountains to live with their great-grandmother Louisa. Their new life is a million miles from the big city - filled with hard work and adventure. It may have been Lou, but much of this book reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird. While everyone on the mountain is poor, there is a family even worse off that resembles the Ewells - and whose boy teaches Lou valuable lessons about life. There is a Yankee attorney figure, Cotton Longfellow, whose legal skills are no match for Atticus Finch, but who has his noble qualities. And, there is the hard-working young black Tom Robinson like figure named Eugene who keeps his head down and his mouth shut despite the blatant racism all around him. I knew that there would be a courtroom scene at the end of the novel (according to the book flap) and I just kept hoping it wasn't going to be a false accusation against Eugene. But, the best character of all is Diamond Skinner - a 12-year old Huck Finn raggamuffin who has no use for reading or writing, but teaches Lou all about fishing, running the land, and loving something greater than fame or money. This book tells a great story about family, having convictions, and hanging on to the things that are important.

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