5 out of 5 stars
Wish is a stand-alone children’s novel by Barbara O’Connor. It’s meant for the Middle Grades (4th-6th) and is wonderful, poignant, and is just all-around delightful.
Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. 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.
I’m pretty fond of children’s literature, but I have to say, this is one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time! The story line is so realistic and believable, as are the characters in this book. It’s wonderful.
All her life Charlie’s made a wish every day. She has a whole list of ways that one can make wishes, 11:11 on the clock, first star, crossing the state line (clapping 3 times), bird singing at night, etc. We never know what this wish is until the very end of the book because after all, if you tell someone what your wish is for, it won’t come true. In the end, Charlie gets her wish even though it’s a little different looking than what she thought it would be.
Charlie goes through a lot of character growth throughout the book. When we meet her, her world has just been turned upside down. Her father’s been sent to jail, her mother’s too sick to get out of bed and take care of her, and she’s being sent to live with an aunt and uncle she’s never met before. She’s scared. She’s mad at the world for changing. She’s mad that her sister, Jackie, isn’t coming with her. She’s not really a very nice little girl to be around. She gets into fights at school and at Vacation Bible School, she says mean things in the heat of the moment, etc.. Bertha and Gus, her aunt and uncle seem to take it all in stride. They don’t yell at her, they don’t punish her, they simply love her. Little by little that’s all it takes for her to start changing.
The supporting characters in this story – Bertha, Gus, Howard, his brothers & parents, and Charlie’s sister, Jackie are just wonderful. They all teach Charlie something about life and love and family. Jackie’s afraid that Charlie will hate her because she can’t take care of her, but Charlie doesn’t hate her. She maybe doesn’t completely understand, but by that point in the book she’s starting to settle in and get comfortable at Bertha & Gus’s place. She’s feeling a little more secure so she takes it in stride.
The settings, the story line, everything about this book is just delightful and fantastic. It’s seriously one of the best children’s Middle Grade books I’ve ever read. I can see I’ll probably be enjoying it more than once!
All in all this is a WONDERFUL book for Middle Grade kids and I HIGHLY recommend it!
** I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **
About the Author
Barbara O’Connor’s awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children’s choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.
Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.
She currently lives in Asheville, NC.