Picks and Pans Review: Wish You Well

updated 11/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

by David Baldacci

When a family argument turns tragic, precocious 12-year-old Lou Cardinal and her kid brother Oz are uprooted from their soft New York City lives to a mountainside farm in Virginia. Once there, Lou is stunned by the grueling farmwork, annoyed by what she perceives to be the ignorance of country folk and angry at her newly incapacitated mother, whom she blames for causing the car crash that killed her father. But pugnacious Lou is devoted to 7-year-old Oz—whose sweet wishes for his mother's recovery inform the book's title—and intrigued by her hardy great-grandmother, who has taken them in. Eventually, deep friendships with a mountain boy and a country lawyer soften Lou's harsh ways. Author Baldacci is best known for his thrillers (Absolute Power, Saving Faith) but in Wish You Well he weaves an old-fashioned coming-of-age story. While minor characters seem stock, the 1940s details ring true, and a compelling courtroom trial—pitting the family against a land-grabbing coal company—provides a stirring conclusion. (Warner, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Little suspense-but plenty to savor

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