Monday, June 06, 2016

MMGM- The Seventh Wish

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

26073068Messner, Kate. The Seventh Wish.
June 7th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Charlie has a decent life, but middle school is hard. Her overachieving older sister, Abby, is off at college, and she misses her. Her mother is a part-time school nurse, hoping to find a full-time job, and her father is an English teacher. Charlie participates in Irish dancing and would like to move up to higher levels of competition, but doing so requires a lot of dedication and resources. When she is out fishing with her neighbor, Drew, and his grandmother, Mrs. O'Neill, Charlie hears a fish whom she has caught speaking to her, saying that it will grant her a wish if she releases him. She does, wishing that she were not so afraid of the ice. When she no longer feels apprehension about going over the deeper water, she starts to look for the fish to make more wishes. Even though she talks about all of the stories where wishes go wrong, her wishes aren't always accurate-- she gets the wrong boy to fall in love with her, and wishing that her mother would get a new job causes her to miss a competition. Things get more serious, however, when her sister's heroin addiction is discovered. The parents manage to get her into a program, and Charlie has to spend her Saturdays visiting Abby at the facility-- and lying to her friends about it. She wants to be supportive of her sister, but also wants to keep advancing with her dancing. Will the fish be able to make things right? Or are some things in life beyond even magical help?
Strengths: Frequent readers know I am NOT a fan of sad books, but this had so much hope and so many of the RIGHT things happening that I really loved it. I was expecially fond of Mrs. O'Neill telling Charlie about her late husband's struggles with alcohol, which you wouldn't think would be interesting, but helped Charlie understand her sister better. Charlie's concerns are very true to middle school experience (boys, activities, being special), her parents and other adults in her life are fantastic, and even the magic is a nice touch because it frames the very real problem of heroin abuse in a context that middle school students can take. There's just enough detail about Abby's experience to warn students away from heroin, but also to make them understand why some people slip into addiction. I love Messner's own description of this-- " a magical-ice-fishing-Irish-dancing-heroin novel for kids". Really, probably Ms. Messner's most brilliant novel to date. 
Weaknesses: I might have worked in "magic" that wasn't as magical as the fish instead. This is clearly fantasy; the fish clearly talks to her. This didn't work for me in Crenshaw, but it worked here. Still, if the magic were more ONLY in Charlie's head, it might have been a tiny bit better. 
What I really think: Excellent. Just excellent. 

And another super duper excellent book (even if it has sad moments) is this one:

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  1. Sad is okay as long as its wrapped inside a big box of good. I have both of these on my future reds list. Thanks.

  2. I haven't read The Seventh Wish yet, but I intend to. I do love Kate Messner's writing, so this one will be a definite for me. Thanks for the review. I will try to check out Ms. Bixby's Last Day as well.

  3. I've enjoyed some of Messner's other books. I'm not a sad book fan, either, but I might check this one out. And Ms. Bixby's Last Day sounds fabulous!