(Belated) ARC Review - How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
This was another one of those books that I didn't even know I needed until it was right in front of me. Just so dang good.
Grace is a rising high school senior who was just away at a piano conservatory for a couple of weeks. When she returns, her mother has moved in with her new boyfriend - who just so happens to be Grace's ex-boyfriend's father. And their relationship didn't end well. This is the backdrop to changes in Grace's life - her best friend Luca gets a girlfriend and starts pulling away, her turbulent mother goes into a bit of a downward spiral, and her piano is gone. And then comes Eva.
Eva's mom recently died of cancer, and she moves in with Luca's family (Luca's mom and Eva's mom were good friends). Eva is new in town, a former dancer, and the same age as Luca and Grace. And she's gay. Grace is smitten. YES, YOU HEARD THAT CORRECTLY - WE HAVE A HIGH SCHOOL AGED BISEXUAL MAIN CHARACTER.
All of that happens fairly early in the book. The rest of the book is spent navigating the rest of the summer. Spoiler alert - it's heartbreaking and heartwarming and so so good.
3 Things I Loved
- Grace. There are so many aspects of Grace that I just love. She has a fierce loyalty to a mother who doesn't necessarily deserve it. She owns her sexuality - she doesn't shy away from loving Eva, but she also doesn't shy away from her past relationship with the ex-boyfriend she now lives across the hall from. She plays the piano and owns that and she wants to move away from their beachside town and owns that too. There are so many things to love. She's a great, complicated character.
- Eva. Oh, Eva. Eva is the perfect compliment to Grace. Where Grace can be dark and gritty, Eva shines. Where Eva can sink into sadness, Grace finds hope. Add this to the face that Grace is biracial, is out and unashamed, and is dealing with this terrible grief - I've never read a book where grief is dealt with quite like this one. I couldn't put it down, and Eva was a big part of that.
- LUCA. All the platonic male-female friendships in YA please? I love Luca's relationship with Grace. There's a fierce love, but it's not romantic. There is loyalty and devotion and all of it, but it's only complicated in the way that friendships are. I try to write friendships like this, and I haven't succeeded yet. But Luca and Grace gave me hope for the future of my own writing.
Yes and no. Problematic wasn't the right word. Triggering, maybe? I think I'm unique in this situation, and I didn't even mention it when I reviewed the book on Goodreads. Maggie, Grace's mother, is an alcoholic (I can't remember if there are also other drugs, but alcohol is the big one), and that makes their relationship very messy. As the adult child of a former alcoholic, these scenes were hard for me to read. They brought back memories that weren't always pleasant. But you know what? They were real.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I've read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good, but not something I'd reread
- Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart
This book was beautiful. Between the bisexuality, the biracial love interest, the friendships, and the real portrayal of an alcoholic parent, this book is hard to top. I have nothing to complain about. I'll definitely be reading it again. I'm giving How to Make a Wish a BLUE rating. Go read it. It's so good.
Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected my review at all - in fact, I have since purchased the book in order to support he author.