By Barbara O’Connor
After seeing Wish all over Twitter and Instagram, I had to pick up a copy for my classroom. I knew my students would immediately be drawn to the gorgeous cover, and the premise of a book about a girl and her dog. What I didn’t realize was how deeply the book would touch me as a reader.
Wish follows the life of a little girl named Charlie Reese as she moves in with her aunt and uncle in a small mountain town. Leaving behind a heartbreaking family situation and an uncertain future, Charlie fills her days with making wishes. Even though she hopes to return to her mom’s care, she works to make the most of her time with her aunt and uncle. She makes friends, she rescues a dog, and she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible.
One of my favorite things to find in middle grade books is imperfect main characters. I love when kids can read about people who make mistakes and work hard to fix them. Charlie Reese is absolutely one of those characters. She makes mistakes as a student, as a sister, as a daughter, and as a friend – and she often struggles to fix them. It’s in her struggles, though, that the important lessons of this book are taught.
This book is beyond important for kids. It’s heartbreaking portrayal of Charlie’s family situation is serious, and sad, but it’s also so real. The book looks at poverty and other issues in ways that are age-appropriate without glossing over them. Seeing Charlie overcome her situation with kindness and perseverance will inspire children everywhere. By opening their hearts to Charlie, kids will develop empathy for those who face many types of challenges in our communities and around the world.