December 21, 2017 by elnadesbookchat
As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
Publication Date: January 2, 2017
Summary from Netgalley:
What if you could ask for anything- and get it?
In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.
Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
This book was not at all what I was expecting. It ended up being much darker and much more thought provoking than I ever would have thought. There were lots of times where I thought I had it figured out, but then something would happen that totally threw me off course for awhile. Even though I knew by the end what Eldon was going to wish for, but how he got there and the aftermath was not what I expected.
Eldon was not exactly a likable character, in fact he is pretty self-centered and a jerk most of the time, but you also can’t help but feel sorry for him and also somewhat endearing. You still end up rooting for him even when he is acting like a complete idiot. For most of his life he was popular and well liked by his peers, (at least in his eyes) and then boom senior year, when his classmates start wishing to be popular and the best on the football team, his life is totally turned around. He also has experienced a lot of tragedy in his life, some of it due to the wishes of his parents, but also the recent loss of his younger sister. The pressure to make the right wish is huge on this kid, so no wonder he is a little messed up and hard to figure out. But as you can expect he does a lot of growing in this book, and it is more about his journey than the wishing in the end.
The fact that Madison is a small town adds to the story. Small towns are hard, because everyone knows everyone and knows everyone’s secrets and business. This really adds to the story. It also makes sense when you factor in the keeping the wishing a secret as well.
This whole concept of the wish on your eighteenth birthday was fascinating. Eldon spends a lot of time talking to others about their wishes and how their lives were changed by it. There are chapters that tell these stories which were also fascinating. Even those who spend a long time on the wording of their wishes often do not end up happy in the end. There were also some tragic consequences of their wishes. The secrecy around the wishing and the town’s need to keep it a secret also affected how the wishes worked and how people misused them. There is some deeper meaning to the wishes and commentary on society and what makes us happy. It is not always what we think it will be.
This was a great coming of age story, where the character learns a lot about himself and his place in this world. The magical realism really works in this story and at times I found myself wondering if the wishes were really granted or if people’s belief that they were was what was really going. A very well crafted tale that will make you think.
Here is a short author interview about the book that was done at ALA this summer with Roger Sutton. There are some insights into the characters and the writing that is interesting.