REVIEW & EXCERPT: Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino
You know when you’re looking at someone and you can’t help but smile at how oblivious they are to their own charm?
That’s what was happening to me, and it was making me feel…happy. Euphoric. Something indescribable. It was like we already knew each other, like we had met in a previous life. Memories that didn’t exist began exploding in my mind like fireworks.
Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, searching for a spark to jump-start her life and give her a sense of purpose. She’s had as many jobs as she’s had bad relationships, and now she’s feeling especially lost in her less-than-glamorous gig at a pie-and-fry joint in Los Angeles, where the uniforms are bad and the tips are even worse.
Then she collides—literally—with Adam, an intriguing, handsome, and mysterious painter. Their serendipitous meeting on the street turns into a whirlwind one-night stand that has Charlotte feeling enchanted by Adam’s spontaneity and joy for life. There’s promise in both his words and actions, but in the harsh light of morning, Adam’s tune changes, leaving Charlotte to wonder if her notorious bad luck with men is really just her own bad judgment.
Months later, a new relationship with Seth, a charming baseball player, is turning into something more meaningful, but Charlotte’s still having trouble moving past her one enthralling night with Adam. Why? When she searches for answers, she finds the situation with Adam is far more complicated than she ever imagined. Faced with the decision to write a new story with Seth or finish the one started with Adam, Charlotte embarks on a life-altering journey, one that takes her across the world and back again, bringing a lifetime’s worth of pain, joy, and wisdom.
“You’re making love sound tragic,” I said.
“No”—he shook his head—“I wouldn’t want it any other way. Tell me about us. What do we like to do?”
“Paint and sail and eat and drink. Just simple things.” “Don’t forget about sex,” he said. “Yeah, lots of sex. Before the children were born we
"We were practically naked every second of the day.”
“I like that.”
“When they got older, we’d sneak away for weekends and leave them at my mom’s.”
“What are they like? Our children.”
“Happy. That’s all we wished for. We put our love first and it just spilled over into them and now they’re happy.”
Tears sprang from my eyes and ran down my cheeks. Isn’t that what we all hope for when it comes to our children?
His tone suddenly changed. “That’s beautiful, Char- lotte.” It was like he was waking up from the dream. I didn’t want to go back to reality yet, but I knew these fantasies were just to help Adam get his mind off things.
“I can imagine a long life with you,” he said. “I can imagine what a great wife you’d be."
I pulled my hand out of his. “The story is about you and me.” He didn’t say anything; he just nodded and then continued to stare out the window. I bent and kissed the top of his head again, and whispered, “It’s about us. Don’t take that away from me.”
“He taught me that one way to give your life meaning is to teach another person how to look within and love.”
Wish You Were Here is only my second Renee Carlino book and I'm sitting here wondering why I still haven't put life on hold to read her entire back catalogue.
From the moment I read the blurb I was instantly fascinated with how this story was going to play out. I really didn't except to like Wish You Were Here as much as I did! I didn't expect to feel all the feels I did and cry all the tears I did!
But from the first chapter of Wish You Were Here, I was frustrated.
Charlotte and her best friend Helen live together and work together and have an incredibly frustrating if not slightly toxic friendship. While they know each other better than they know themselves, half the problem with there friendship is that they know each other but they don't know themselves. Charlotte and Helen unintentionally hold each other back, they're polar opposites as well. Charlotte comes across as a negative and cynical person while Helen is bubbly and positive. They treat life completely differently and are essentially chalk and cheese.
In the first 25% of the book Helen is dumped and forces Charlotte to go on a night out and celebrate her knew single-dom. While on there way home from the bar they run into Adam. Adam is a breath of fresh air to the story if not also slightly perplexing. After Charlotte and Adam spend the night together he almost becomes a completely different person come the morning.
This one action of Adam's is what kept me reading Wish You Were Here and is also the point where I was completely hooked and needed to know how Charlotte and Adam's story would end.
Then Adam disappears. Enter Seth... Charlotte meets Seth. Seth likes Charlotte. Charlotte is self absorbed and holding herself back from experiencing love and life. Seth is too good for Charlotte.
I adored Seth and Adam from the first moment they both appeared in this poignant story. I almost instantly disliked Charlotte and as the story went on I disliked her even more.
But then Wish You Were Here took a unique turn and Charlotte grew on me and became a character that I admired.
I don't think I've ever read a book that had me as frustrated and confused as this book did. I'm so incredibly glad that I persevered and finished this impeccable story of love, heartbreak and life. It took so many twists and turns that I wasn't expecting and had me rocking in a corner with tears rolling down my face numerous times. Renee Carlino is a phenomenal writer. I've never loved a book that I started out barely tolerating and i believe this is a huge compliment to the type of writer Renee is. How many times can you say that due to an authors incredible writing that you've gone from tolerating a book to it being a favourite?
The story of Charlotte, Adam and Seth is a truly beautiful experience. One that I'm thankful I got to read. Renee Carlino has instantly become a favourite author of mine purely for her magical writing. There's no other way to describe her writing but magical!
I can't recommend Wish You Were Here enough. If you're looking for the type of story that makes you feel everything then this is that story!
Meet The Author: Renee Carlino
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she
likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.