Category Archives: Whalen, Marybeth

Marybeth Whalen. The Wishing Tree. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013.

The Wishing TreeJust as the pieces of Ivy Marshall’s life are shattering, it seems like all of the elements in her sister Shea’s life are fitting together seamlessly. Shea’s long-term boyfriend Owen plans a grand, romantic proposal on national television. Meanwhile, Ivy discovers that she’s losing her job at the family company because her father is shutting down her local branch in Asheville. On top of that, she finds out that her husband Elliot has cheated on her. Ivy bears Shea’s good news through gritted teeth. To add insult to an already terrible situation, Ivy’s family and friends blithely tell her not to worry about her job termination and to see it as an opportunity to prepare for Shea’s upcoming wedding. For the time being, Ivy has decided to keep word of her marital discord under wraps. Since she and Elliot married under tense circumstances, she is ashamed to admit possible defeat to her family.

Six years ago, Ivy was engaged to Owen’s cousin, Michael. Childhood friends Ivy and Michael and Shea and Owen coupled off naturally in their teens. Their lives were set on a happy track, but when Ivy met Elliot at a ski lodge on vacation, she recognized Elliot immediately as her true soul mate. She abandoned her family and her home in Sunset Beach and tossed away her former life to move to Asheville and wed Elliot instead. Lately though, Ivy observes that she and Elliot only seem to discuss “the business of life – what groceries they were out of, what bills needed to be paid, when they were expected to be somewhere” and she rues that their spark has mellowed. Elliot’s betrayal unhinges Ivy, but it is not a total surprise. The instant Ivy learns of Elliot’s infidelity, she sets out for Sunset Beach without waiting around for an explanation.

The process of wedding planning is near traumatic for Ivy, especially since the news team that covered Shea and Owen’s engagement story is also interested in broadcasting their wedding. As all the decisions and preparations play out before Ivy’s eyes, she cannot help but consider the wedding she was supposed to, but never had. She fights back jealousy for Shea and what appears like a perfect wedding. Disillusioned by a broken engagement and a failing marriage, Ivy flings herself alternately between the men in her life, Michael and Elliot, confused about which path to take into the future – her past or her present. As she wonders what could have been with Michael, she plays a dangerous what-if game.

But Elliot is not ready to let Ivy go and he uses creative measures to communicate his remorse. In a charming and modern twist on traditional love notes, Elliot creates a Twitter account and tweets his apologies and affections for Ivy through the handle, @ElliotIdiot. Forgiveness is a concept central to novelist Marybeth Whalen’s The Wishing Tree. One of Ivy’s greatest struggles is learning to accept being alone. While Ivy owes forgiveness to many people in light of her impulsive actions, she must also separate her individual desires and fears, and forgive herself, before she can find a happier ending.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Brunswick, Buncombe, Coast, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth

Marybeth Whalen. The Guest Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Macy Dillon and her family used to take a vacation to Sunset Beach, North Carolina every year. Her most treasured childhood memories are of walking the beach with her mother, brother, and especially her father. But Darren Dillion passed away when she was just sixteen, and Macy’s life has contained a gaping hole ever since. Macy is barely holding it together, working at the local grocery store, and suffering through her mother’s forced celebration of her father’s birthday each year. The only good thing that has happened since Macy’s father’s death is her now five-year-old daughter, Emma, even though Emma’s father walked out on them both shortly after she was born.

But this year at the birthday celebration they hold annually for her deceased father, Macy’s mom announces that they are once more taking a family vacation to Sunset Beach. Macy begins to hope. As a child, her father encouraged her natural artistic talent by asking her to draw a picture in the guest book at their beach house rental each year. Amazingly, another child, a young boy, would answer Macy’s drawings each year with a drawing of his own. The children traded drawings for ten years without meeting, but in what she knew would be her final drawing, Macy promised to come back and find him. Macy is determined that this trip to Sunset Beach will be the one in which she finds the boy. But when they arrive, no less than three men begin vying for Macy’s attention…and any of the three could be the artist. Will she ever find out his identity? And will her family ever find peace without her father?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Brunswick, Coast, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth

Marybeth Whalen. She Makes It Look Easy. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011.

Ariel Baxter is struggling–her husband David is always gone on a sales trip, she has three active boys to deal with, and her photography business is picking up. There never seems to be enough time to make everything run smoothly. When she and David move their family to an upscale suburban neighborhood, Ariel feels exhausted, even though her new home is the house she’s always wanted. Then she meets Justine.

Justine Miller is Ariel’s perfect next-door neighbor. Always perfectly coiffed and lipsticked, Justine has two perfect little blonde girls, a perfectly clean house, serves meals done to perfection, and somehow always finds time to be the hit of the town. At first, Ariel thinks she’s found her new best friend, maybe even a sister, but something isn’t quite right.

Moving to the neighborhood at the same time as Ariel and David are Tom and his wife Betsy, and Tom can’t seem to keep his eyes off of Justine. Ariel assumes that her gorgeous neighbor is used to these kinds of looks from strange men, but it’s soon revealed that Tom and Justine were once high school sweethearts. When rumors begin circulating, Ariel must decide what to believe: her new best friend’s blithe reassurances, or the little voice in the back of her mind that refuses to be silenced. Is it possible for a woman who has everything to believe she has nothing worth keeping?

Told from the point of view of two first-person narrators, Ariel and Justine, Marybeth Whalen’s second novel will appeal to fans of Christian literature and Desperate Housewives alike.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog. 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Whalen, Marybeth

Marybeth Whalen. The Mailbox. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.

Nineteen years have passed since Lindsey’s first summer in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, when she was introduced to the mysterious mailbox on a deserted stretch of beach. Her beau at the time, Campbell, described the folklore behind it and encouraged her to write a letter to the Kindred Spirit who guards the mailbox. Over the years, Lindsey has dutifully left an account of the year in the mailbox, often describing her life in Charlotte, crumbling marriage, and sadness over losing Campbell.

Now she is back in Sunset Beach with her children, just days after finalizing her divorce. Although Lindsey has hoped over the past year that her husband would come back to her, she is trying to accept her new beginning. She runs into Campbell, and her emotions from nearly two decades ago return. Even though Lindsey felt betrayed  by the way things ended in 1986, she still feels a connection to him. However, Lindsey discovers that Campbell violated her trust by reading her letters in the mailbox over the years. When she decides that she cannot lose him again, Lindsey realizes she and Campbell have always been each other’s Kindred Spirit.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Brunswick, Coast, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth