A Review of Ashley Herring Blake’s How to Make a Wish, and a slightly related note on peanut butter
The first thing I have to address is the word Blook. I’ve been a sucker for cramming two words together since Glee helped us coin Finchel. When I thought about the fact that I would be writing a blog/book report about everything I read, I thought: why not cram blog and book report together? The result? Blook report! Boog report just didn’t have the same sparkle.
Okay, Blog titling aside, let’s jump into this week’s read!
My first thought after finishing How to Make a Wish was that everyone agrees that peanut butter is inherently the best comfort food. I, for one, have been of this school of thought since peanut butter and Oreos in Lindsay Lohan’s revamp of The Parent Trap. It’s funny and also comforting to know that other authors (and characters) believe in the curative, transformative powers of peanut butter.
The love and discovery story woven through this book is sweet and mellow, despite the protagonist’s whirlwind of a mother. As a pianist and a dancer slowly fall in love, Blake shows us the highs and lows of grief and friendship.
I related in large part to Grace. Not because I had a flighty mother or an unstable home life. But her almost manic happiness and depressive lows are familiar to me. When she and Eva (her love interest, because “I like girls, Grace”) have the opportunity to just be themselves, the elation is palpable on the page. You can’t help but smile along with them, exhilarated by the thought of each other. It’s love and discovery in a way that makes me nostalgic for the first time I realized I was falling in love.
But the giddiness of falling in love with the Right Person doesn’t undo the hurt that losing a mother causes both girls. While Eva’s loss is physical, Grace hasn’t had a mother figure emotionally for a long, long time. And the emotional scars that come with that burden both of the teenagers. You also get to see from a young adult’s perspective that parents and guardians are exactly what we all are: human.
In all honesty, I found the story of Maggie and Margaret Grace more compelling for most of the story than the budding romance of Eva and Grace (Greva? Evace? No? Okay.). Not because the rise and fall of their attraction versus their guilt and grief was anything other than riveting, but because we so rarely get to see a story of a mother and daughter where the mother is broken and the daughter finally decides to do something about it. Not for her mother, but for herself. Grace’s search for, and ultimate declaration of, autonomy is moving and inspiring and makes me wish that I’d had this book to read as a teenager.
Would I recommend this book to others? Oh, absolutely. To every teen wishing for someone to see them without the Façade, this novel is a fantastic story. Hell, even for us twenty and thirty-somethings excited to see stories we needed growing up, this novel is emotional and fulfilling. I give it a solid 8.5/10, would definitely add this book to my personal library and would curl up to reread with a cat and a blanket.
Join me next week for my adventure into the mind of a psychopath with Mark Pryor’s Hollow Man.