THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner
~ Amanda Smith
Twelve-year-old Charlie’s life is filled with normal twelve-year-old stuff: friends, school, science fairs, Irish dancing, and missing her a sister who went off to college. When we first meet Charlie, her biggest problem is having too little money to buy the Irish dancing solo dress of her dreams. An opportunity to ice-fish, and sell her catch to the local tavern, offers Charlie a way to save for her perfect solo dress. However, her very first catch is a wishing fish. Soon she realizes the fish is not a figment of her imagination, but really grants her wishes (although not exactly as she would have liked it too). She hooks the fish again and again to manipulate things she cannot control by herself. Through a devastating family crisis, Charlie learns that some things cannot be controlled, not even by a wishing fish.
In THE SEVENTH WISH Kate Messner masterfully weaves fantasy elements into realistic fiction. The silliness of the fish, and the hilarious outcomes of Charlie’s wishes form a striking paradox with the true conflict in the story: Charlie’s inability to control her sister’s choices or addiction. THE WISHING FISH is rich in imagery. Charlie ‘s dependency on the wishing is parallel to Abby’s dependency on drugs. The more Charlie goes out on the ice, the less she fears it, so even when there are clear warning signs, she ignores them, trusting that she will be fine. The ice becomes a false security, similar to Abby’s addiction.
THE SEVENTH WISH is an important and timely novel. In an age appropriate manner, Kate deals with the emotional turmoil drug addiction causes in families. Even though it deals with a heavy subject, it is an enjoyable read with relatable, multi-faceted characters, which makes it a perfect conversation starter. I will definitely be sharing this book with my kids.
THE SEVENTH WISH contains numerous swoon-worthy sentences delivered at just the right time. However, Kate Messner’s brilliance is most noticeable in the tight first chapter of this novel. Off the bat, Kate establishes a solid relationship between Charlie and Abby, and by page 6 we can already see the change in Abby and the resulting cracks in their relationship. Seamlessly throughout this chapter the reader is introduced to Charlie’s family and friends; conflict is established; magic is referenced; and a major theme is set up in a friend's warning, “Wish all you want. Wishing doesn’t make a thing so.” For writers, the first chapter of THE SEVENTH WISH serves as an excellent mentor text.
For a behind the scenes look at THE SEVENTH WISH, click here to read our interview with Kate Messner.
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