Review: How to Make a Wish

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 2.5

This was a buddy read with some of my friends, and since I was looking for something heartbreaking, I’m sad to say the only heartbreaking thing about this book was that it wasn’t as heartbreaking as I had hoped. Honestly, the one thing that came to my mind was that the story was painfully cliché. I’m not new to contemporary stories that center around a main character with a broken family, but this book was just a bit predictable.

How to Make a Wish can be filed under young adult, contemporary, LGBT, and romance – and to be honest, that perfectly sums it all up. Grace is seventeen years old, and all she really wants to do is play piano. But she can’t. Not when her mom lives off of beer. Not when her mom gets a new boyfriend every month. Not when Grace has to work her own butt off for the money her mom should be making, and not when her mother still thinks everything is fine. But when they move (once again) and Grace meets Eva, a girl who is dealing with some tragedies of her own, something is different. And different can be good or bad, but different is always difficult.

The plot, first of all, was just okay. It honestly felt a lot like any other young adult contemporary novel – there were no surprises, and overall nothing really stood out. There were some scenes that I felt like were unnecessary, and the plot itself focused more on superficial issues; I had wanted to know more about Grace’s psychology or about the relationship with her mother progressed, but the plot seemed to lean more towards the “teenage love” aspect that, while cute, is still terribly overdone, and sometimes it was just so cliché that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

I do feel like the book was a bit plot-centric, as a lot of the characters (and their traits) and some of the scenes seemed to be used as plot devices, causing them to be a bit shallow.

For example, Grace is a pianist, and Eva is a dancer. And then what? That’s just kind of it – it felt as though the author gave both of them a dream meant to be unattainable, meant to sound cultured and beautiful and soft, and just left it as that. They were just hobbies that they each loved, and not only was it cliché, but you could’ve also replaced Grace’s love for music or Eva’s love for dance with a love for writing or the dream to become a computer engineer, and nothing would’ve had to be changed. They were just dreams – they weren’t quite incorporated into the story, but were simply used as plot devices to make the characters’ stories seem even more tragic.

Continuing on with that, the characters felt a bit shallow. Each character made some pretty questionable decisions, especially Grace, which not only made the story frustrating, but also induced some eyerolls. Some of the characters didn’t quite have their own stories, and when I say the book is centered around Grace, it means that every other character (except perhaps Eva) seem to be there only to play their part in her story. A good book would make sure that each character has a story of their own. The mom, for example, was painfully passive and it made me want to tear my hair out.

She seemed to exist purely to give Grace her terrible backstory, and I swear, her stupidity was unreal.

Overall, I think the book may be weak because of how shallow and cliché everything seemed. The writing style was pretty basic – it flowed smoothly, but there weren’t any memorable quotes or tearjerkers, and overall it was a quick read that might be good for someone looking to pass the time, but not for someone who was looking for a story that would really tug at their heartstrings.

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