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Wish Paperback – August 29, 2017
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“The many ways [Charlie] wishes form something of a catalog of folk and family traditions and are delightful all by themselves. . . . Speaking in an honest voice revealing her hurt, resentment, and vulnerability, Charlies explains how her wish comes true. A warm, real, and heartfelt tale.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“At school, at home, and in the community, the characters and settings are well drawn, but it’s the narrator’s convincing, compelling voice that will draw readers into the novel and keep them there until her wish finally comes true.” ―Booklist
“O’Connor (How To Steal a Dog) pens a touching tale of resilience sure to resonate with children who have ever felt like they didn’t belong. . . . Poignant and genuine, this is a tale that will resonate with readers long after they finish it and have them cheering for the underdogs―both of the two-legged and four-legged varieties.” ―School Library Journal
“O’Connor again finds the sweet spot for young readers who are beyond early chapter books but not quite ready for the cynicism and/or complexity of much tween-into-teen lit. Bertha, Gus, and the Odoms are certainly awash in goodness, but their big-heartedness never devolves into sentimentality.” ―The Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books
“Like a generous portions of grits,Wish makes the world a little better.” ―Bookpage
“This heartwarming story is not tobe missed.” ―Kidsreads
“O’Connor has the setting and colloquial mountain speech down pat, but most important, she gets at the heart of Charlie’s unhappiness, showing that wishes may come true, but perhaps not in the ways we expect.” ―The Horn Book
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The only downside is that the concepts of an abondoned child can be a little scary for kids to think about. I did not realize that this book would delve into the topic so deeply, or I would have waited a few years before sharing it with my son. It does bring up some good talking points to discuss with your kids, and also does present some teachable moments.
But as a warning, I would strongly advise reading the book yourself first (or reading it WITH your child) to make sure you want to approach all of these scary topics with them.
By the way, my son LOVED the book. Every night he begged for "just one more chapter!"
The book is written in a language similar to the way I imagine a child thinks. The author uses words like "waiting for mama to get her feet on the ground" and "broken family" and that her dad is in jail for "fighting." But she doesn't really expand on the legal aspects or the direct terminology of "abandonment" or "adoption," etc.
I have to say that I myself feel like I got a lot out of this book. Like I mentioned, it will pull at your heart strings and it will really make you feel for what that little girl is going through. You will certainly understand the anger and resentment she feels inside, and all the ways she acts out because of it.
The little girl's aunt in the story is just the perfect mother figure (patient, kind, encouraging, affectionate, but direct and honest). Reading this story makes me want to try to be a better mom for my kids.
Read this book with your kids (or just for yourself). It will touch your heart and you will be thinking about it for days afterward. Just be prepared to discuss issues that might be upsetting to some children if you share it with them.
Great read! :)
It has taken me awhile to write this review. WISH was so epic, I was left speechless after finishing the book. WISH is powerful, loving, heart-warming, and inspiring. Barbara O’Connor uses this story to tug at the hearts of the reader. Charlie is a mess of a person, and yet, just a little love can go a long way. Being a teacher of students like Charlie, I was drawn to the emotion of the book, “wishing” all my students who deal with what Charlie deals with could be as lucky as Charlie to land with an amazing aunt and uncle. After reading this book, you will want to make Charlie a part of your family.
Initially, the transition is incredibly difficult for Charlie. She’s lonely, misses her sister and sees the little town of Colby as a backwater filled with small-town ‘hillbillies.’ She struggles with her temper and with fitting in at school and really doesn’t feel that she belongs. She has a habit of making a secret wish everyday and searches throughout the day, every day, to find something to wish on (a first star, a dandelion, 3 birds on a wire.) The reader gets the sense, throughout the book, that Charlie wishes only to be returned to her family in Raleigh. Then, she meets Wishbone…a stray dog that she works to lure in and make her own. Her relationships with Wishbone, a local boy named Howard and Gus and Bertha begin to change her perspective and ultimately her life.
O’Connor’s characters are real, flawed and incredibly lovable. She doesn’t hold back from depicting the Colby ‘hillbillies’ just as they are: they have furniture on their porch and cars in their yard. But, she also perfectly depicts the love that exists in that town and in those homes and shows the reader (rather than telling him/her) why belongings and appearances aren’t what matters. Howard, the friend that Charlie reluctantly makes, has an ‘up down walk’ and a heart of gold. It would be difficult to read about this Owen Meany-like boy without falling in love with his spirit and his heart.
Bertha and Gus are good, simple people and Charlie is a amazing little girl who has simply experienced too much in her young life. If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you will recognize the Odom (Howard’s) family, the neighbors from church and Scrappy (Charlie’s incarcerated father.) Even Jackie, Charlie’s slightly rough-around-the-edges older sister is depicted with both street smarts and heart. Somehow O’Connor manages to depict the failings of each of her characters without abandoning their spirits…you’ll clearly understand what changes Charlie’s mind about Colby by the end of the book.
Wish’s plot is also extremely believable. While it would be easy to make this book trite and formulaic, O’Connor resists the urge and allows her characters to behave in ways both heroic, fearful and embarrassing. She doesn’t shy away from showing the vulnerabilities of each of her characters…you can see the difficulty of Charlie’s situation in her bravado, Jackie’s bragging and Bertha’s inability to stop talking! O’Connor’s depiction of the quandary that faces this little girl is raw without being too painful and hopeful without being sappy. Don’t be surprised, however, if some of Charlie’s triumphs and pain bring a tear to your eye!
As an adult, I read this book with relish because of the delightful characterizations of these small-town folks. I cared about Charlie and wanted to see what would happen to her. While I feel strongly that young readers will also feel that kinship with O’Connor’s characters, I also believe that the story and the lessons (‘Don’t judge a book by its cover. Home is where your heart is. Thank God for unanswered prayers.’) will resonate soundly with their sense of adventure and justice. While this may not be a book that I would have picked up to read by myself, I highly recommend finding a young person with whom to read it: any excuse will do to submerse yourself in Charlie’s story! You won’t regret it!
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This is my opinion of the book have a good time ;)