About a quarter way through this book, I found myself wishing I had something like this to read when I was kid. By the time I was binge reading through the last few chapters, throat full of lumps and a steady stream of gentle tears flowing down my cheeks, I knew it was something I needed to read right now. Who knew a work of middle-grade fiction, purchased for my kids to read during the pandemic, would have such an effect on this 40 year old woman? I grew up with a mother who was in many ways similar to the protagonist’s mother in this story. My escape from real life came in the form of books, but none of the books I read provided the realism or solidarity of “Wish”. I devoured titles such as Nancy Drew, the Babysitter’s Club, and Sweet Valley Twins. While I remember these books fondly and the purpose they served in temporarily bringing me out of my own angst, in some ways they made me feel more alone. They reinforced the perceived norm of cookie-cutter girls, with singular problems that were guaranteed to be wrapped up by the final chapter. Their lives, conspicuously devoid of even the slightest shadow of disfunction, were the complete opposite of my own. If I could time travel, I would absolutely tuck this book into my old bookshelf. Whether I would choose it over the glossy pink covers of smiling blonde twins, I do not know. But I do know that if I had read “Wish” at 12, I may have felt a little less lonely, and I may have even been inspired to ask for help. My nine year old daughter read this book before me, and recommended that I read it as well. It is with much satisfaction that I can say that she cannot relate to it in the same way as I. Though my daughter’s life may differ greatly from Charlie’s experience with parental mental illness, incarceration, and neglect, there are themes in this book that all readers will be able to relate to: Friendship, pride, controlling your temper, regret, perseverance, and acceptance. I believe it is important to instill empathy in children from a young age. Complex characters that are likable but not perfect, but exhibit growth are relatable to every person, no matter the age. While this book may deal with concepts that may be frightening at face value, it is approached gently, in a way that is not traumatizing or scary. Depending on your child, you may want to read it first or along with them. Doing so will bring up a lot of interesting and important topics for discussion. I highly recommend “Wish” for ages 9-99, and I am looking forward to reading more of Barbara O’Connor’s titles.