by Kate Messner
age range: 8 to 12 years old
Bloomsbury Children's Books
Charlie feels like she's always coming in last. From her Mom's new job to her sister's life at college, everything seems more important than Charlie. Then one day while ice fishing, Charlie makes a discovery that will change everything . . . in the form of a floppy fish offering to grant a wish in exchange for freedom. Charlie can't believe her luck but soon realizes that this fish has a very odd way of granting wishes as even her best intentions go awry. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they've ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish fish.
The description above is taken from the blurb of the book, and to be honest it doesn't make justice to this marvelous book. I tried to write my own description, as usual, but there are so many things I want to say about this book that I felt overwhelmed, and decided to put this task aside, at least for now.
The seventh wish took me by surprise. I liked Charlie from the very beginning. She is sweet, smart, loves Irish dance, and deeply misses her sister who is a freshman in college. She is doing ice fishing with her friend Drew and his grandma, to save money for a sparkling solo dress for her next Irish dance feis, when a green eyed fish grants her a wish in exchange for its freedom. This is the little pinch of fantasy in the book, and although the wish fish will do a few more appearances in the story, this book can't be labeled as a fantasy. It is pure realistic fiction.
The beginning of the book is light and amusing. Charlie has a beautiful family, and adorable friends. And funny things happen, such as although Charlie wishes for Roberto Sullivan to fall in love with her, Robert O'Sullivan is actually the one "affected". Or Charlie's friend Catherine taking care of a flour-bag-baby for a project, and forgetting it (actually her, she named the bag Meredith) everywhere. I remember thinking this was the kind of book that makes you want to be a kid again. But at some point Charlie's family discovers Abby, her older sister, has an addiction to heroin, and their world totally changes. She can't understand how her smart sister, always academically outstanding, skillful at sports, and socially successful is now in this situation. The story goes on as Abby is put under a drug addict program, but after a short time "clean" she relapses, and this time suffering an overdose.
Messner chose on a tough topic, and developed it in the best way possible. The explanation of what is happening is age appropriate and respectful. The way the family including Abby, but specially Charlie, suffers because of this addiction is displayed without lies, but full of hope too.
All this things Charlie has to go through makes her grow in some way, but at the same time she is a girl who would like to just make things right again by wishing it to a green eyed fish. I would give ten stars to this book if it were possible.
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.