My youngest childhood reading hours were filled with reading The Babysitter's Club Little Sister series while my closest in age sister, five years ahe...moreMy youngest childhood reading hours were filled with reading The Babysitter's Club Little Sister series while my closest in age sister, five years ahead read and collected The Babysitter's Club series and Mysteries and Special Club editions. So now as an adult and collecting books for my own daughters to read in the years to come I was very enthusiastic to see author Ann M. Martin's first attempt at a historical and the beginnings of a new series. Last week I saw a copy of the book in Barnes & Noble and knew I was expecting one so I had to stall myself and my excitement, but then this morning when the delivery man left a package at my door including this beautiful book I knew everything else was going on hold. Quite often when I get a middle grades reader, I read about 20-40 pages or so, may or may not enjoy it but often forget to go back or other things grab me. Today was different.
Better to Wish, or at least the copy I have is gorgeous. It's a hardcover with an illustrated jacketed that is embossed and very attractive. Actually if you take a look at my blog you'll definitely know I enjoy the color theme as my colors are green and lavender and that is exactly what this is. As Abby, stands in the grass looking onward, inviting a reader to pick up this book and read her story. It is elegant and in a realistic way enchanting.
Now for the story itself... this is not really a story, rather not in the way that I normally find when I pick up a book. It is written more as if you're reading a diary or memoir from a woman looking back on her life from 2022, she tells from the age of eight in 1930 up until a questionable ending in 1939. As a reader I am not a fan of cliff hanger endings, but this was done in a good way and even if you never did pick up the story later on (this is the first is a series of at least four novels I believe) the reader will be left content or at least with an imagination to bring it to an end as it should be.
Technically this is a read for ages 8-12, but I wouldn't stop at 12 for readers, however I would be cautious with what type of eight year old you suggest this to. It's tough, and sad, and realistic. After all it's a story set in the Great Depression and ending in war times. In an attempt to not fully give away the plot I have to say it is sad in a way like Bridge to Terabithia as well as Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or The Swan House yet there is even more to it than that in the introduction of facilities for the "feebleminded". It's definitely a conversation starter. Easily I would suggest this as a school read as a spring board for a study on the history of the depression as well as a glimpse into the importance of diaries and memoirs for studying history. Overall, it is not a very happy book, but it's not entirely sad. Especially considering the time period things could have been much worse for our Abby and she survived very bravely and well and in the end it's all the little moments that count. There are friendships, and good-appropriate-adjustments to changes in life as well as a positive attitude to overcome adversity. Pretty much the villain in this book is the father and aside from a sentence or two I cannot think of anything good to say about it, yet he's real and a prime example of what not to be in life. Abby as a young girl could have spurned him and become angry and thus injured everyone around her even further but she was able to raise above his spite and actions and mature into a person that was very likable and admirable.
The fact of the matter for myself is that I read this book during the girls' quiet time followed by naptime and really had no desire to put it down. It wasn't a "I have to read this" feeling, but I didn't desire to leave it either until the very end. The end made me smile and makes me curious for an outcome, but doesn't leave me outlandish or gasping for more, or even angry at a stall. While I am left with a big question on little Fred... then again, it may be life that some things just fade and are never really answered. It cannot always be wrapped up in a white silken hair ribbon...
I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.