Top positive review
A lot of layers in this thoughtful MG novel
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2016
Twelve-year-old protagonist Charlie is a middle schooler from a typical family—a good family. She has loving parents and an adored older sister who is now away in her first year of college. Charlie's serious about training as an Irish step dancer and needs to earn money for a special dress for competition known as a feis (pronounced "fesh"). To raise the money, she starts ice fishing, where she encounters a magical fish who apparently grants wishes in exchange for its life. Charlie returns to the same fish again and again to ask for help for her friends, family members, and herself—simple things like wishing for her crush to fall in love with her, to overcome her fear of the ice, for her mom to get a new job, for her friend to pass a test, etc. Her wishes are earnest, innocent, not greedy. And yet, she finds out that trying to wish away one's problems isn't that simple. In fact, sometimes it becomes a whole lot more complicated. Especially when the problem is a whole lot bigger, like finding out her older sister has become addicted to heroin.
As a middle school teacher, I am so appreciative of this novel and how carefully Kate Messner handled the substance abuse issue—the stigma, the complexity of rehabilitation, and the effect on an entire family. I know there are kids at the upper elementary and middle school level who NEED this book. Some of my students have older siblings, parents, and other adult relatives grappling with addiction. Some of my students might already be on that pathway themselves. Kids need to know that, yes, it happens to good kids from good families in good communities. And yes, there is a way out.
The Seventh Wish shows the reader that taking the easy way out of anything—whether by wishing on a fish or coping with substances—is NOT it. For some things, there is no easy fix. Some things, such as the choices others make, are beyond our control. Each of us must find our own way by looking within, where our greatest power and strength already lies, and let others find their own way, too.