Happy Monday, guys!
Hope all of you are having a great long weekend, and reading lots and lots of books!
Today, we're reviewing the gorgeous Wish by acclaimed middle grade author Barbara O'Connor. Read on for more, and check out why you should definitely put this book on your must-read list!
MMGM is a feature hosted by (fabulous) author Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Published August 30th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format read: ARC via publisher
She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets
Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways.
Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
Charlie Reese has been struggling, since being sent to live with relatives in North Carolina. She behaves like a typical young girl about the move: she tells everyone that life is better back home, and brags about what it's going to be like when she finally does get to go home.
But after meeting a new friend named Howard and a dog that she names Wishbone, Charlie realizes that there is a whole entire new world out there...
While the trope of a young tween being sent to live away from dysfunctional family members isn't necessarily new, there's a definite charm and sweetness to Wish that makes Charlie's story an unforgettable one. O'Connor doesn't hesitate to start Charlie's journey by making just a bit bratty, but readers can absolutely recognize how her bratty bravado is covering for her internal insecurities at being sent away from home.
(Honestly: I recognized a lot of Charlie's tells, e.g. her habit of saying "This will be better when I move home," as ones I've used. And I'm several decades older than she is. Which only emphasizes the universality of her story.)
Though the adjustment to her new life isn't without substantial growing pains, O'Connor is careful to show how much of what Charlie needs to feel at home is simple acceptable and love for who she is. There are several instances in the book where she wonders if she's going to be snubbed or punished for behaving badly, and the subsequent lack of repercussion surprises her into slowly opening up. It's a simple but powerful reminder of learning to love and be loved at a young age, which is an important lesson for readers of any age.
Charlie's journey is reflect nicely in Wishbone's journey as well. Though her relationship with the lovable stray is very clearly a mirror of her own journey to be loved, O'Connor never hammers in the comparison to the point where it's obvious. Instead, Charlie's growth in taking care of the dog, and how both human and dog relate better to those around each other as she does, again reinforces the power of love.
Though there are many things to love about the book, I suspect that readers will find the conclusion of Charlie's journey to be the most satisfying one. Without giving spoilers away, O'Connor really emphasizes the idea of substance over flash; a lesson that Charlie has sweetly, emotionally struggled to learn. It's satisfying and will leave readers with a slightly teary smile on their faces.
Bottom line: Highly recommend, full stop.