Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Review: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

As You Wish
What if you could ask for anything- and get it? 

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

Stacey's review 4 of 5 stars

Be careful what you wish for, because it may come true....

How amazing would it be to be granted a wish on your 18th birthday that would really come true, unlike the ones we wish before we blow out the candles on our cake year after year? To be the best football player in school, to be the most beautiful, to have an endless bank account? Sounds too good to be true? One teenager in Madison, Nevada, feels this way about the magical cave that exists in his small, otherwise boring town that actually does grant these wishes- and the sequels that follows every one of them.

As Eldon approaches his 18th birthday he feels more burdened than excited about his wish day. He begins to research the wishes of his fellow townsfolk and finds that most of their wishes have brought more misery than happiness to their lives- there will always be another wish for beauty, or athleticism to negate the current king or queen, money keeps those who wished it focused only on their bank accounts, and love? That's the worst one because he's lived with its consequences his whole life: his mom wished for his dad to love her unconditionally when they were 18 and his dad lives under this magic, acquiescing to everything his mom wants. Not exactly how she thought it would be.... And there are rules! You cannot wish for something that would profoundly change the world- no world peace or magical cures for cancer! Wishes that only focus within the limits of the town line turn people into self serving egocentric people, Eldon feels, and he wants no part of this. Rarely do kids leave the town either- or if they do they return to marry and raise a family. The furthest Eldon has travelled is to Las Vegas- and this is to see his younger sister who exists in a vegetative coma as a result of an accident. His mother pressures Eldon to use his wish to save his sister, Ebba, but is this even a possibility? The doctors believe her brain damage is irreversible, so nothing short of a miracle will save her- but wouldn't Ebba popping up and walking out of the hospital in front of all that staff be breaking the rules? The story follows Eldon as he processes all this info and guilt as he traverses his decision of what to do, or not do, on his 18th birthday.

I really liked the unusual concept of this book, which really brought to light the idea of being careful what we wish for. If you get something by wishing and not be your own hard work and planning, does it mean the same thing? We all have to live with our decisions, but the people in Madison are really stuck with their decision forever. We hear through the book that Eldon was a pretty narcissistic guy before his sister's accident and some other readers didn't like him as a character, but I didn't find him to be much different than most 17 year old boys- and his feelings and memories about his sister made him quite likeable to me. Whether I agreed with his decision in the end or not I did feel for the kid and respect that he tried to do what he felt was best for many, not just himself. The one thing that I didn't understand is why the kids don't leave- it is done but rarely. Because they are harbouring this secret about the town? There is no focus on college or exploring anywhere outside of Madison, other than day trips to Vegas. Why? I wished this was explained more rather than 'stated' this is how it was. It felt like something was missing. The town didn't seem big enough to sustain generation after generation. But it was an interesting read!

This is a  review of a NetGalley ARC.

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