Published by Bloomsbury
Summary: Charlie is trying to save money to buy a new dress for her Irish step dance competition, so when her friend Drew invites her to go ice fishing to make some money, she agrees. The only fish she catches is too small to sell, but to her amazement, the fish speaks. “Release me,” it says, “and I will grant you a wish.” Skeptical, she gives it a try, and in the next day or so, realizes her wish has come true. She returns to the hole several more times, making wishes to help her friends, but, predictably, the wishes go awry, and Charlie vows to stop. Then comes a phone call that turns Charlie’s world upside down. Her sister Abby, a college freshman, is addicted to heroin. She has to leave college and enter a treatment center. After much careful thought, Charlie makes one last wish for Abby. It seems to be working until Charlie’s dance competition. It’s a day of triumph for Charlie until Abby disappears, and Charlie has to learn that all the wishes and magic in the world can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. 240 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Charlie is an engaging protagonist, and the story lines about the fish and her dance competitions add some lighthearted notes to a sad and weighty topic. The issue of addiction of a family member is handled realistically, and Charlie’s ultimate realization that she can’t save her sister and must live her own life as best she can is a good message for kids to hear.
Cons: The cover and first few chapters make this feel like a much lighter read than it turns out to be. Some kids in the recommended age group may not be ready for the subject of addiction…or parents may be concerned that they’re not ready for it. Preview before sharing with young readers.