Friday, January 26, 2018

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

On the line describe your family, I wrote 'Bad.' 
What is your favorite subject in school 'None.'
List three of your favorite activities. 'Soccer, ballet, and fighting.'
Two of those favorite activities were lies but one of them was the truth.
I am fond of fighting.

Charlie (do not call her Charlemagne) knows hundreds of ways to make wishes and she has set herself a task of making a wish every day.  She is now twelve years old and has been making wishes since Grade Four. Charlie needs to make her wish (which you may guess as you read but I won't spoil this) because her family is in disarray.  Her dad is in a "correctional facility" and her mother has retreated into depression so Charlie is sent stay with Bertha and Gus.  Charlie has so much unresolved anger - she just keeps lashing out at everyone.  These are the moments that touched me the most as I walked with Charlie on the journey to her wish.

The first day of school does not go well for Charlie as you can see from her responses to the question page from her teacher.  At the end of the morning Howard Odom is assigned to be her "backpack buddy" but Charlie just wants to be left alone. Luckily Howard is persistent and he can see past her anger. Charlie sees a little stray dog but she needs Howard to help capture him. Gradually Charlie opens up to Howard and he patiently gives her strategies to combat her anger. Along the way though she almost destroys this precious friendship and her outbursts to the beautiful and kind Aunt Bertha are utterly shocking but somehow this wise woman also sees Charlie just needs love.

I remember seeing the cover of Wish sometime in 2016 and wanting to read it straight away but as is always the case here in Australia the hardcover edition was very pricey (Aus$34) so I knew I needed to wait for the paperback.  Shopping in the city yesterday I spied it on the shelf, bought it home and read the whole book in one sitting this morning.  Yes, yes it is that good! Here is a set of discussion questions for Wish.  Here is an interview with Barbara.  Here is an interesting way to make a book trailer.

If you are a fan of Because of Winn Dixie, Almost home and Missing May by Cynthia Rylant you will adore WishBarbara O'Connor is the author of another book I loved - How to Steal a dog and an exciting moment for me was when Barbara actually commented on my blog!  You should also look for The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. It is easy to see links between the Elvis and his wild family and the wonderful Howard and his family in Wish. 

Ways to make wishes - just a few :

  • 11.11 on the clock
  • The first star of the evening
  • If you see a black horse shake your fist at it three times
  • Blow an eyelash
  • If you see a yellow railroad car

My wish would be to have Howard as my friend!  

Here are a few quotes from the book.

Charlie is sitting on the porch with Bertha and Gus "And then the most amazing thing happened. They both reached out at the exact same time and held hands."

"Maybe the Odom's hearts were so good that they didn't care that they lived in such a sad-looking house."

"I knew what it felt like to be stray, not having a home where somebody wanted you.  ... That dog and I had a lot in common. I was suddenly overwhelmed with love for that skinny dog."

"Charlie, ... you can't judge people for the mistakes they make. You judge them for how they fix those mistakes."

A warm, real, and heartfelt tale. Kirkus

Wish contains so much of what I love about middle grade fiction: an engaging plot ... a main character that readers will fall in love with, unforgettable supporting characters (not an easy thing to do), and a setting so real you feel like you’ve been there. Colby Sharp

No comments: