Arriving on the island of Okracoke, North Carolina when she’s sixteen and pregnant, Maggie feels like she’s being punished for the first and only sexual experience of her young life, even though it was so short-lived she barely remembers the non-event. Except for the consequences of course. It’s 1996 and being banished from her home in Seattle to live with her aunt in the off-season on this windswept island feels like being on another planet. Never a very good student, Maggie’s already fallen behind in her studies so her Aunt Linda hires Bryce Trickett as her tutor. Older by a few years, he’s polite, respectful, highly motivated and headed to West Point in the Fall. Bryce is a positive influence on Maggie and his interest in photography piques her interest. Neither of them realizes that her natural talent with a camera will prove to be a major turning point in her life.
Twenty something years later in 2019 Maggie is an established travel photographer and gallery owner in New York City, splitting her time between the two. She’s a world traveler, taking pictures wherever she goes no matter how remote and it’s been a whirlwind ride. Now it’s December and Maggie is struggling to come to terms with the reality of malignant melanoma. After undergoing chemo and all its devastating side effects the prognosis is not good. As her condition deteriorates she depends more and more on her young assistant and they begin to form an unexpected bond. With Christmas just days away, Mark coaxes her into telling him about Christmas on Okracoke and the only man she ever loved.
“The Wish” is a story within a story such as only Nicholas Sparks can tell. It’s so much more than a love story. It’s family dynamics, the blush of first love, societal pressures, debilitating illness, parental expectations, and final wishes. Sparks gives us characters that are so relatable they’re like family and sometimes they’re equally vexing. He so perfectly captures the sullen, rebellious, and moody teenage angst that every parent who’s lived through that scenario can relate to the battles that take place. This is easily in the top ten of the 118 books I’ve read year-to-date and it may even be in the top five. Five stars.
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