Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Diversity, LGBT, Own Voices
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All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid.
Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.
Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.
Easily one of the most memorable contemporary reads of the first half of 2017, How To Make A Wish captured my heart, squeezed it, hugged it, and never let go throughout the entire read. We have a rather bittersweet exploration of a mother and daughter relationship, the fresh, sweet new feelings of a newly-discovered relationship between two girls going through loss, and a stunning setting of the sea, with words just wrapping around a reader like warm sand. I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end, even with a bit of frustration, and would definitely recommend it as a contemporary YA read.
The book starts with Grace getting the news from her mom that they’re moving – again. This time, it’s with her mom’s newest fling, who lives in a lighthouse. Grace is used to this kind of behavior from her mother. Grace’s mom is spontaneous and unreliable, even as she shows her caring and lovable side. I was definitely frustrated with Grace’s mother, just because of the horrible way she acted towards Grace sometimes, with so little thought and heart. At other times, she would really give Grace hope. This kind of back-and-forth behavior is what made Grace grow up possibly faster than she should have. Instead of being taken care of by her mother, it’s rather like the other way around.
A dull, familiar disappointment fills me up. Whenever I find myself in some awkward situation, I always, always hope. And she never, ever surprises me.
To make it worse, Grace’s mom’s newest fling has a son: her ex-boyfriend, who had a nasty split-up with her. It’s quite mortifying, and my heart really went out towards Grace. Her situation is not the best, but she holds it in and doesn’t complain. She doesn’t lash out at her mother (like I would have quite honestly), but continues to be a supportive daughter and helper. This patience kind of builds up, though, and there’s only so much a girl can handle. We follow Grace as she holds this pain inside and finally expresses it, leading to the path of healing for the mother and daughter dynamic.
Grace’s sexuality is explored quite nicely in the book as well, as she is bisexual (OwnVoices author!). She finds solace with the new girl in town, Eva, who is biracial and lesbian. Eva is also struggling with her mother’s death, and comes to stay with Luca, who is Grace’s best friend, and his family. Eva and Grace are like pieces that fit together in a puzzle. They complement each other, as both girls are rather hesitant to step forward in the romance, but find that the support and love from the other can strengthen them. While Eva is a ballet dancer, Grace is a pianist. Discussions of race – such as how white the ballet community is – and sexuality – such as Grace’s bisexuality – are explored in the book, giving it yet another facet. I adored the little details, such as Eva’s tendency to eat peanut butter from the jar, and Grace’s masturbation scene (which isn’t done often in YA), that just added to their character and really breathed life into them.
She tossed her head back and laughed, and it was a little embarrassing how much I loved the sound.
AH, and it was just so sweet. There are no words to how much I fell in love with both Grace and Eva and their romance. Grace’s friendship with Luca was also tested in the book, which brought in some conflict. This all takes place in the ultimate summery setting, complete with midnight lighthouse escapes and waves by the sea. With an immersive setting, beautifully intricate relationships, and a main character who grows as her relationships evolve, what more could you want from a contemporary?
How To Make A Wish was just gorgeous all the way. The complex mother and daughter relationship had so much depth, as well as the easy-to-love romance that develops. Top that with the perfect summer setting, and you get a successful contemporary that will leave your heart full of fuzzy feelings. I know this book already made my wish of a summer contemporary come true.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you HMH Books for the review copy!
I also have a US-only ARC giveaway going on for the blog One Way Or An Author over here!
This book will be available out in American bookstores for $17.99 USD.