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Simple Wishes    by Lisa Dale order for
Simple Wishes
by Lisa Dale
Order:  USA  Can
Forever, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As a young child, Adele Matin always fantasized about living a normal childhood with a mother and father who adored each other and lavished their only child with unending affection. In reality, Adele never knew much about her musician father, while her mother Marge was a hardworking provider with strict expectations and no tolerance for a daughter whose head was constantly in the clouds.

Adele's teen rebellion results in pregnancy and her running off to New York to find fame and fortune. Neither materializes, but she does eventually land a good job at an art gallery. Then her success crashes down around Adele's ears after an unwise liaison with a younger man. The news of her estranged mother's death brings Adele back home to the Pennsylvania mountains to sort through Marge's belongings and also take stock of her own life.

Artist and woodworker Jay Westvelt has been looking after Marge's cottage since her death. Despite his reputation as the local hermit, he and Adele experience an instant attraction. Adele has no wish to form any attachments to either the town or the man who's oddly secretive about his art. All she wants to do is settle her mother's affairs and head back to the city. As Adele and Jay's relationship strengthens however, she begins to re-evaluate her priorities, until secrets from her mother's past threaten to tear apart any hope of new beginnings.

Lisa Dale makes an impressive debut in Simple Wishes. She creates very believable characters as well as a series of poignant conflicts. Secondaries like Marge's wise Korean friend Beatrice also add depth - the latter takes Adele under her wing and exposes a side of her mother that Adele could never have imagined. Simple Wishes is a character-rich and involving story about acceptance and forgiveness and Adele's eventual realization that happiness does indeed begin with the simple things in life.

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