Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux 

Summary:  11-year-old Charlie has been sent to live with her Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus while her father serves a jail term and her mother “gets back on her feet”.  Charlie’s not exactly sure what that means, but she does know that she doesn’t want to be living in the hillbilly town of Colby, North Carolina away from her home in Raleigh and her big sister Jackie.  She doesn’t much care for Howard, the neighbor boy who tries to befriend her, and she’s not sure what she thinks of her loquacious, quirky aunt.  Charlie’s a big believer in making wishes, and she has one wish that she makes whenever she gets a chance, whether it’s finding a penny, seeing the first star come out, or getting the bigger part of the wishbone.  In fact, Wishbone is the name she gives to the stray dog she glimpses in the woods near her aunt and uncle’s home, and she enlists Howard to help her with a plan to catch the dog and turn him into a pet.  Their plan succeeds, and Wishbone turns out to be the first good thing to happen to Charlie in a long time.  When Jackie comes for a visit, Charlie gets a chance to see her surroundings through new eyes, and begins to appreciate the people who care about her.  A surprise phone call from her mother turns her world upside down and forces Charlie to make some difficult choices.  240 pages; grades 4-6.

Pros:  The adorable, appealing cover is just the beginning of a heartwarming story of a girl who’s had way too much to deal with in her short life, yet still has the resiliency and heart to slowly learn to care about the people around her.  Keep the Kleenex close at hand as you approach the final chapters.

Cons:  I’d love to know what happens to Charlie and Jackie, but I have a feeling this will be a stand-alone book.

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