Tag Archives: Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Book Review – Wish by Barbara O’Connor

27414384Title: Wish

Author: Barbara O’Connor

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: 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.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for a finished copy of this book!

Sam’s Review:

Wish was a middle grade novel that wasn’t on my radar at all. I admit to being unfamiliar with Barbara O’Connor’s work, especially given she is a quite the name with quite the plethora of work in the land of middle grade. This book is about a young girl who comes from a broken home, is transplanted to live with her aunt and uncle, and has to learn to live in a new environment.

Charlie isn’t the sweetest girl given her upbringing — she’s very rough around the edges, very self-involved at times, and she struggles to understand right and wrong. This makes her a difficult character to be in the mind of at times because her emotions are completely founded, but she can also be so nasty to others at time. O’Connor does a great job of making her feel like a kid with problems and she doesn’t sugarcoat Charlie’s responses to others, which I appreciate so much. However, I feel like if I was a younger reader enjoying Wish, I think I would struggle to actually like and root for Charlie. I found my brain at odds with her character, because adult!me understands her character well, but child!me would have really disliked her as a character.

This is also a book about a girl who wants a dog, in this case, a stray named Wishbone. I won’t lie, the bits about wanting to trap Wishbone actually upset me at times, and even rubbed me the wrong way. I am happy, of course, that nothing happens to the dog, and I am even happier that Wishbone is able to help Charlie cope with her life problems, because I do believe in the healing power of animals, which this book shows very well. I also like the growth between the two characters, and how Wishbone brings Charlie out of her shell. The friendships that are forged in this book are so strongly written, so organically grown in the story, and those were my favourite parts when reading it.

Wish is a tough read — it will fill you with so many emotions as you’re reading it, and O’Connor does a good job of keeping her readers engaged in Charlie’s development. I wish the story had ended on a bit of a strong note, but I won’t deny the enjoyment I felt watching our heroine grow in the story. I loved her aunt and uncle, though I wish they had been more a part of the story, I adored Wishbone, in a way, I wish this book had been a bit longer so their could have been more character development. Still, I think this is a strong middle grade novel that is sure to win many awards and reader’s hearts.

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ARC Review – Write This Down by Claudia Mills

27414439Title: Write This Down

Author: Claudia Mills

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Autumn loves to write. She finds inspiration all around her, especially in Cameron, the dreamy boy in her journalism class who she has a major crush on. Then her older brother, Hunter, who used to watch out for her but has grown distant since he started high school, reads one of her poems about Cameron to Cameron’s older brother. They make fun of it and she is devastated. Determined to show her brother how talented she really is, Autumn decides that she is going to become a published author – now! She writes an essay about her changing relationship with her brother, enters it in a contest, and wins, and her dream of publication is within reach. But if her essay is published, everyone will know her family’s secrets. Is being published worth hurting those you love?

Huge thank you to Raincoast/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Write This Down is one of those middle grade novels that has a lot of great ideas, but it also is lacking as well. It deals with our heroine, Autumn, who wants to become a famous writer, and who actually writes down what she knows and sees. It’s to the point where she begins to write about her family, particularly the boy she has a crush on and the “sudden changes” in her older brother, Hunter.

One thing this book does incredibly well is that it builds on all the relationships in Autumn’s life. It’s a short book and yet I felt like I knew a lot about the different characters that she was interacting with, and Mills does an amazing job of giving us a larger picture as to what is going on between Autumn and her brother Hunter. I also want to applaud how much I loved the way Autumn and Kylee’s friendship was portrayed — it was so sweet and yet there were times when I wanted to smack Autumn and remind her how good she has it with that girl!

However, there was one thing about this book that felt very strange to me: Mills makes a lot of references to Emily Dickson and a lot of older forms of media presence, but this novel doesn’t establish when it all actually takes place? While I like the way Emily Dickson is used in the novel, I wonder with a lot of younger readers if her being referenced might go completely over their heads, or potentially encourage readers to investigate who she is. I question if Autumn can be a character that middle graders reading this novel now would be able to easily connect with or not. It’s tough to say.

I think this novel bursts with a lot of creativity and I think readers who are creative people will find lots to love about Write This Down. While I think a lot of stuff in this novel referenced feels a bit old, I won’t deny that at times I found it very charming. This novel is heartfelt and well developed, and overall I found it to be a sweet, quick little read.