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.
Every time I read a Renee Carlino story, I know I’m in for an emotional journey – one that not only transforms the characters in the text but offers insights about life and living to its readers.
Wish You Were Here, Carlino’s newest release, will resonate with readers because they’ll be able to identify with how the heroine views her life and herself due to the fickle way she lives, changing career options, part-time jobs, and unworthy boyfriends because she doesn’t truly know who she is or what she wants out of life.
Charlotte plays it safe, never truly putting herself out there or putting her heart on the line, partly because she doesn’t think too highly of herself and partly because she doesn’t seem to know how to write her own story…until she finds herself making memories, both real and pretend, with a man who appreciates every breath that he takes and every beautiful moment that he spends with the only girl he wants to always remember, even when his ability to do so is compromised.
Some of Charlotte’s actions towards others and reactions to varying situations will not sit well with readers, but I feel like Carlino deliberately portrays Charlotte as a twenty-something woman who has no idea what she wants to do with her life…someone who really never stops to think about all that she has or takes a minute to look at the world outside of herself and realize how much of it she’s wasting by not appreciating every day that she’s alive. Because as shallow and unaware as Charlotte was at the beginning and throughout the middle of her story, she’s a completely different person once she experiences those meaningful moments with her soulmate and decides to truly figure out what’s important to her and learns exactly how to not let fear stop her from loving…from living…from truly feeling free.
While Wish You Were Here is mainly about Charlotte finding value in her life and realizing the path she’s supposed to take, without the supporting characters in the book, her parents, her brother, her best friend, Adam, and Seth, she would have never reached the sense of peace and awe she has at the end of the book. These people have helped to shape the woman she becomes and while not all of the encounters she has with them are helpful, they all need to occur so that Charlotte can understand herself…understand how to write her life story to the best of her ability, and when it’s all said and done, Charlotte helps these characters to develop into new and improved versions of themselves simply because the new version that Charlotte becomes is someone who knows her worth and goes about showing other people theirs.
Charlotte’s story is one that will stay with me because its message and its lessons are ones that every. single. person. could learn and grow from, especially in this crazy and bizarre world we live in nowadays!
4.5 Poison Apples
“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.”
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. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com