Monday, 5 June 2017
Review: How to Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: HMH Kids
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Source: ARC from Publisher
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Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances.
One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again. How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.
Guyyyssss, what a sweet little book. I mean, there's definitely some sniffle-inducing moments. But all and all, so sweet and lovely. I read Ashley's debut, Suffer Love, last year. I remember thoroughly enjoying it. Buuutttt that's about all I remember. So, that's not great(but will make a good reread; be like I'm reading it for the first time(again)). Could be my fault because I read a bazillion contemps in a year. Where I was going with this is that, How to Make a Wish promised a bi MC in a gay relationship, so automatically I signed myself up to some non-existent list that promised me I would find a way to get my grabby hands on this one. And well I obviously did, but with a bit of trepidation because of the whole realizing that Suffer Love was ultimately forgettable. I think I'm safe here, How to Make A Wish leaves me with quite a bit to remember it by.
Grace was in a really hard situation. Her mom is the farthest thing from providing a stable parental unit. Grace had to grow up super fast, she's the adult in their relationship. And it shows on Grace's exterior. Grace's attitude and hard shell is hard to get pass at times but makes sense for the life she lives. How to Make A Wish is a book about different kinds of relationships but is also a great coming of age, self-growth story. We start the book as Grace is coming home after being away for a few weeks, to find that her mom has moved them in with her new boyfriend. New boyfriend isn't a terrible guy, but the situation, living situation is terrible. Who ups and moves their teenage daughter to some strange guys home? And strange guys home also happens to be the home of his son; Grace's ex-boyfriend. Let's just say they didn't end of pretty terms. That's pretty much the icing on the cake when it comes to Grace's mom, the revolving door of boyfriends, drinking, no job, constant moving. As I said, not stable. It's really really hard to feel one ounce of sympathy towards her mom. Even when it's obvious that she's not mentally stable. To see the life Grace is living, the situations she has to save her mom from. Her mom even sells her piano. Which is Grace's love and life; her ticket to college. So there's the biggest and most complicated relationship in Grace's life.
Luca, Grace's best friend is a real treat. I want to call their friendship more sibling like. But it is a true and strong friendship. There are no secret lingering romantic feelings. Thank God. Luca is loyal and the most stable person in Grace's life. Which also brings his family into Grace's life. His mom is a better mom to Grace than her own. I love their relationship too. Like I mentioned, Grace is hard to get through to sometimes. She's got a hard shell that she can't let crack, and neither Luca or his mom ever shy away from being there for her. A lot of the time it is about Grace and what her mom has done now, Luca is perfect at talking Grace down, bringing her to reality. It's one of those things where Grace can say whatever about her mom, but if someone else, like Luca or his mom brings a dose of reality Grace is quick to be angry at them. But that never keeps them away, they understand. Two of the least selfish, wonderful people.
Eva is somewhat of a salvation for Grace. Yet also a complication. Luca's mom becomes Eva's guardian after her mom unexpectedly and quite suddenly passes away. Eva and Grace bond immediately. Over their art; Eva being a dancer and Grace being a pianist. Over their broken families. Both feel lost and unsure about their futures. The chemistry is definitely there. In a very sweet and innocent way. I mention this relationship is a complication for Grace because she doesn't want to care for and eventually lose someone else. She sets out to protect Eva from her mom by keeping the truths about her mom secret from Eva. Luca is on her to tell her everything. But Grace is convinced if she just tells Eva the bare minimum and asks her to keep her distance everything will be fine. Until it isn't. There's no falling out, there are just times where both Grace and Eva need time. I love them together. Even being a YA book, and them being young, their relationship has that timeless more mature feel to it.
Grace is a complicated character. Becoming the adult at such a young age will change how a kid grows and sees the world. Grace lives in a small town, she loves her town. But she wants out. Grace knows there's more for her. She is a very talented pianist. Grace works hard even with all her mother's setbacks. Grace doesn't provide the reader with an easy time. She is self-involved a lot of the time. She blames the world for giving her such a hard leg to stand on. Eva brings hard truths based on her life growing up as a dancer and being bi-racial. Luca's tough love starts to crack her shells. Grace's moms actions eventually really take their toll. I mean, that ex-boyfriend Grace was trying to make us hate so much showed a very different side to their relationship. Grace could be as uninterested as her mom at times. I never let her faults affect how I saw Grace. There was just something about her that made me connect with her instantly. And she showed major development. Yes, she could be quick to anger but it didn't always fester and Grace eventually learned to stop placing blame.
Yes, How to Make A Wish touched on some deeper topics, like grief and mental illness, but I never felt like the story went dark. It was a sweet first love with some very dimensional characters. I cannot wait to see what Ashley will give me in future books.