Thursday, November 10, 2022

Hedge Over Heels: A Wish Novel

McMullen-Ciotti, Elise. Hedge Over Heels: A Wish Novel 
November 1, 2022 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Rayna is getting very tired of having to move to a different city every time her military mother is reassigned, so isn't planning on becoming too invested in Frederick, Maryland, the latest posting. She is fortunate that her Aunty Jac, an artist, lives with them, since her mother often has to travel. After her last disastrous experience of friends ghosting her, she has a plan; get good grades, ask for a dog, and keep herself emotionally distanced so that the next move isn't so hard. Her mother, hoping to make the move easier, surprises Rayna with a per Hedgehodge named Spike. This doesn't go over very well, since she wants a "real" pet. However, Spike is pretty engaging, and the idea of having an "edgy" pet is appealing to Rayna, who styles herself as a wannabe Goth, with an allegiance to The Nightmare Before Christmas, an all black wardrobe, and colored hair. She also paints high top Chuck Taylors with skulls, and even considers styling some skull decorated accessories for her new pet. Keeping her distance from others is also hard, especially when she meets Nick, who is Cherokee, and has had to move many times because his father was also in the military before he retired. She also meets Wilma, who struggles because her mother passed away a year ago, as well as Matt, Kevin, and Marcie. She starts to get involved in projects at school and starts to doubt her hands-off approach to life until she overhears her mother and aunt talking and suspects that her mother will have to move to California. She starts to back off, but realizes that she needs people, and one cute hedgehog, in her life. Will she be able to stay in Maryland and keep her new friends?
Strengths: I'm a big fan of books where the main characters aren't completely adverse to whatever is going on in their lives, and have realistic struggles depicted. Rayna is fairly resigned; her plan to distance herself from others is based on a recent unpleasant friendship experience. She does warm up a bit to both her new environment and pet. She has a good support system, even if her mother is gone frequently, and I loved the depiction of the school and the neighborhood, even if I've never seen a school that decorates quite as extensively for holidays! Nick is a sweet first crush, and there's a scene at the very end with the most minor hand holding and a sweet kiss, which is perfect for a middle school romance. The author is Cherokee, so seeing a tiny bit of that culture in the protrayal of Nick is great. Most of the WISH novels include some characters who are not described as white, but many times are not reflective of the author's identity. The cover is quite good; props to the Scholastic art department and their use of PhotoShop to manipulate pictures of animals. You rock!
Weaknesses: This reminded me a bit of Pigture Perfect, in that Rayna was not happy with her new pet. Moral of the story, middle grade parents: ask before getting anything other than a dog for your child. 
What I really think: All of the WISH novels are very popular in my library, and hedgehogs are enjoying a moment of popularity, so I will definitely purchase this one. Younger readers will not be as annoyed with Rayna's Goth tendencies; if there's a whole group of people being edgy in the same way, is it really edgy? Even our teachers are dying their hair neon colors, which should have brought about the death of this trend for the young. To quote Cheryl Crowe: "You're an original baby, turn around and you're lookin' at a hundred more."
 Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I've never read any of the 'Wish' novels but am glad to learn about them. Love the idea of goth MG (though I laughed out loud at your acerbic comment: 'Even our teachers are dying their hair neon colours, which should have brought about the death of this trend for the young.')