What It Is About: Charlie's life isn't easy. She feels alone and forgotten. Her mother is busy with a new job, her sister has just left for her freshman year in college, and she is trying to find her place in a dance competition and science fair. Charlie does find some comfort with the neighbor boy and his grandmother. They spend time out on the ice during the winter months trying to catch as many fish as they can. You can imagine Charlie's surprise when she catches a small fish that speaks to her. The request from the fish is to be released back to the water in exchange for a wish. Charlie is quite shocked, but figures she will give it a try. After the first wish comes true, well sort of, she goes back to the ice to catch the same fish and ask for more wishes. Some of these wishes turn out for Charlie and some are not exactly what she was hoping for. After her sister encounters some substance abuse problems at college, Charlie really feels left behind and neglected by her parents. She is both angry and upset with her sister and isn't sure how to handle all of these conflicting feelings.
What I Thought Of It: As soon as I began this novel, I knew it was going to be a special story. One of the many things I enjoy about Kate's stories is how different they are from each other. This newest story if probably one of my favorites. I loved everything about the story. I thought Charlie was a lovable, relatable, and realistic young girl. Everything she went through and was feeling was spot on and believable. The mix of "magic" and realistic fiction was a perfect combination for this story. I was entertained by the wishes and the results of each one. The biggest compliment I have for this novel, is how Kate handled the drug issue that Charlie's sister had. The writing was sensitive, realistic, and didn't shy away from the difficult topic. I know there has been some negative reactions about the drug-use story line, but I'm not sure what people are upset about. It is a real issue in our society and many families have to deal with it. This would be the perfect book for a young reader to experience to help them through their own life and experiences with difficult situations. This was a story that I could not put down and I'm just mad at myself that it sat so long waiting to be read. Well done Kate Messner, well done!
Who Should Read It: I saw a post that Melissa Guerrette wrote about using this novel with her fifth and sixth graders while tying it to the DARE program. I thought the article was excellent and she made a strong rationale for using this particular book. I think the novel would be perfect for a read aloud in grades five and/or six. It would also be excellent for any middle-school reader to have in their hands and read. I know many adult readers have already read the book, but for those of you that haven't, you need to get a copy of the story and experience the beauty of Charlie, the wishes, and a family struggling with a real-life issue. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars