Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review - Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Published by Point (Scholastic Inc)
On Sale Date: January 12, 2010

Summary from book:  For the brokenhearted Olivia Larsen nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone. . . until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep.  The dress doesn't just look magical.  It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life.  And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses - and two more wishes left.  But, magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.  In the breathtaking debut from Alexandra Bullen, Wish asks the question, If you could have anything, what would you wish for?


Wish is a retelling of the three wishes tale.  In Wish, the magical objects are dresses sewn with care by a magical, mysterious and offbeat seamstress named Posey.  Three dresses for three wishes that must be made carefully, because only wishes that come from the heart count. 

Sixteen year-old Olivia Larsen and her family move to San Francisco after the death of her twin sister, Violet.  Not only is she in a new city, but she must also deal with starting a new school late in the year.  Olivia would rather blend in than make new friends, which was always Violet's role.  She had been their social director, the outgoing one with lots of friends, who loved fashion, and always made sure to include Olivia.  While looking for a seamstress to fix a dress for welcome party thrown by her mother's law firm, Olivia comes across Mariposa of the Mission. There Olivia meets Posey, a quirky seamstress, who promises to deliver the fixed dress by the next day.  However, when Olivia opens the garment bag she finds on her front steps, she finds a completely different dress.  With no other options, she wears it. 

After a crazy, exhausting introduction to her new school's social scene Olivia wishes for Violet to come back.  The next morning Olivia wakes up to find that Violet is back.  Not a miraculous, real-life Violet, but a ghost like figure only Olivia can see or hear.  Together they learn that Posey makes magical dresses and that Olivia will get two more dresses and two more wishes.  With Violet by her side, Olivia becomes friends with the popular crowd, becomes more adventurous, and develops a better fashion sense.  While her life is improving, Olivia notices that her parents are not adjusting well to life in San Francisco, each finding a different way of coping with their grief.  In the end, it is their shared heartache over losing Violet that brings them together and allows Olivia to say goodbye to her sister.

I have to be honest in saying that it was the cover and summary that made me choose Wish off the ARC list at work.  The combination of the dress (which is different on the ARC cover and closer to the description in the book) and the shooting star is beautiful and made me want to open the book to find out more.  Wish was a cute, sweet book.  It had elements of romance and fantasy, but nothing too literary.  And sometimes that is just the perfect type of book to curl up with. 

Alexandra Bullen did a wonderful job portraying Olivia and her struggle to move on after her sister's death.  It was clear from the beginning that Olivia was still grieving and was not used to doing things on her own. However, once Violet was back, she pretty much directed Olivia's life, helping her pick out clothes and even telling her how to be friends with Calla, the most popular of the "see and be seens."  I found that a bit odd and frustrating at times because I wanted Olivia to find the strength and resolve to break out of her shell on her own.  Not that I don't appreciate shy, reserved characters, just that Olivia needed to learn how to be her own person, to see herself as an individual instead of as part of a pair.  The supporting characters added depth to the story and it would have been great if the reader got to spend more time with them.  This is especially true for Bowie, a quirky and outgoing girl.  She seems like the perfect friend for reserved Olivia.

I love the names that Alexandra Bullen uses for her characters.  Names like Soren, Calla and Lark seem like names hippies (or former hippies) and free spirited parents would name their children.  Little details like these help to round out the story a bit. 

Overall Wish was an enjoyable book.  It will be interesting to see how Alexandra's next book turns out.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like an enjoyable book! Your review has me really curious about it now...thanks for the review!

    plus, I love the cover ;)


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