August 21, 2017

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:38 am by suebe2

by Barbara O’Connor
Farrar Straus and Giroux

When eleven year-old Charlie Reese gets shipped off, she has no idea what to expect.  The family services woman says these folks are her aunt and uncle but Charlie has never even heard of them. So she shows up with a fiery hot temper. She’s sure she gets it from her daddy who goes by Scrappy.  His temper may very well be why he’s in the local correctional facility. Again.

Charlie hates school because she is surrounded by kids with real families.  There are kids whose brothers and sisters go to the school.  Kids whose mamas slip notes in their lunch boxes.  All Charlie has is a backpack buddy – Howard.

Charlie doesn’t understand Howard.  He rather read or do a cross word puzzle than run or explore.  But maybe that makes sense since one leg is shorter than the other, giving him an odd up and down walk. Aunt Bertha describes Howard and his kin as good-hearted but Charlie doesn’t get it.  Why doesn’t he get mad when the other kids make fun of his walk?  He doesn’t even seem happy when she stands up for him and even gets in a fight.


But maybe his heart is a good thing.  Cause he doesn’t get mad when Charlie lashes out.  He spends all kinds of time helping her catch a stray hound that she’s nicknamed Wishbone.  In fact, every one seems to be helping.  Howard helps her build a huge box trap.  Bertha gives her meatloaf for bait.  Uncle Gus brings home a collar.  It’s like they all believe in her.

But Charlie only has faith in one thing. That if she wishes every day for long enough her wish will come true.  She’s been wishing for years and it is bound to happen sooner or later.  And when it does, she’ll finally have someplace to belong.

I seem to have stumbled across a number of books lately that explore family and home (see Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk and Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep by Leslie Helakoski). Although the themes may be similar, the books are as different as different can be.  Wish is a contemporary novel set in rural North Carolina.  It isn’t as dark as Beyond the Bright Sea sometimes feels although both are for a middle grade audience.  That said, I think Wish is for slightly younger readers than Beyond the Bright Sea. 

It isn’t surprising that the first one Charlie bounds with is a stray dog.  After all, she doesn’t feel like she belongs and this feeling will  resonate with young readers whether they are struggling to fit in at home or at school.

Read it and get ready for some powerful discussions about what it means to fit in and the best definition of family.


1 Comment »

  1. barbaraoconnor said,

    Thank you for this lovely review!

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