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Wishes do come true

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since Wish by Barbara O'connorfourth 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. [Synopsis]

Poignantly perfect

WISH is a touching story about a girl and her dog, and how she finds the place where she belongs. There are deeper layers to this story that will resonate with older readers.

Five things I loved most about this story:

1 The Voice—Written in the first-person, Charlie (short for Charlemagne) is smart, spunky, and a little too openly honest. The voice is spot on in the delightful way children Charlie’s age view the world. For example, Charlie’s thoughts on having to live with her aunt and uncle:

When I asked how long I had to be there, she said until things settled down and Mama got her feet on the ground. Well, how hard is it to put your dang feet on the ground? is what I thought about that.

2 The Premise—Charlie is forced to leave everyone and everything she knows to start a new life with relatives she’s never met, in a town she’s never been to before. It’s a journey of the heart in search of belonging. Charlie’s bond with a stray dog she names Wishbone helps her find her way.

3 The Secondary Characters—Charlie’s forced Backpack-Buddy, Howard Odom—with his up-down walk—becomes a true friend. He is a calming and upbeat contrast to Charlie’s hot temper and sour outlook on her new life. Howard’s family gives Charlie a hopeful context for a normal life, while Charlie’s aunt and uncle provide the nurturing, supportive environment that enable her to heal and grow emotionally.

4 The Wish—NO SPOILERS! All I’ll say is that I think we’ve all, at one time or another, wished for something only to discover that what we really needed was right in front of us all along.

5 The Ending—Again, NO SPOILERS! What I can say is that the ending is heartwarming and satisfying. The happiness in the resolution is earned by the transformations the characters experience through the events that bring them together.