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Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets
Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published August 30, 2016

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About the author

Barbara O'Connor

36 books502 followers
Barbara O'Connor's awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children's choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.

She currently lives in Asheville, NC. Her latest book is Wish, a middle grade novel published by FSG.


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5 stars
7,510 (52%)
4 stars
4,723 (32%)
3 stars
1,607 (11%)
2 stars
323 (2%)
1 star
164 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,755 reviews
Profile Image for Colby Sharp.
Author 4 books1,103 followers
July 7, 2016
I often make the mistake of reading middle grade novels with awards in my head. Thinking about what the National Book Award Committee or the Newbery Committee might think about a book is fun, but it often taints my reading experience.

The time I spent with Barbara O’Connor’s Wish was magical. I never once thought about what award committees will think of this book, not because it doesn’t deserve consideration, but because this book is so obviously perfect and important for kids that it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. Wish contains so much of what I love about middle grade fiction: an engaging plot (the word engaging doesn’t do it justice, but I’m too tired to think of something better), a main character that readers will fall in love with, unforgettable supporting characters (not an easy thing to do), and a setting so real you feel like you’ve been there.

I don’t really have anything else I’d like to say about Wish, but I would like to say that Barbara O’Connor is one heck of a talented writer. My students love her books. Reading them aloud builds community, empathy, and it is just plain fun.

Profile Image for Sheri.
1,102 reviews45 followers
July 16, 2019
A touching read demonstrating that sometimes when you’re out there seeking for your own wish to be granted, you’re actually granting someone else’s.
Profile Image for Julie G .
870 reviews2,684 followers
October 2, 2019
Do you think that every family in the American South in the current day is eating cornbread, turnip greens and succotash for every supper?

Seems hard to believe.

I mean. . . don't you think some of them eat spaghetti or hamburgers or fast food?

Don't get me wrong, I love Southern food, and I'd probably cook it at least once a week if I didn't think my family would spit it back out at me, but. . . it's one of my issues with this book.

There is the bad family: Mama sleeps on the couch all day, Scrappy (Daddy) is in a correctional facility. . . and then there is the good family: Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus spend all day gardening and taking in stray cats and cookin' grits in a big ole cook pot.

Naturally, Charlemagne (Charlie) the protagonist, is going to be won over by all dem grits 'cause deys so good. . . and this is no spoiler-alert, 'cause you can see the story line coming on the first page.

I'm sorry, but I read chapter books aloud to my kids and this was just way too after-school-special for me, but, okay, the cover art is inspiring, and there is a beagle in the story.

My daughter says 4 stars, I say 3. . .

But that beagle on the cover is just begging me to be more generous.
Profile Image for Lucy.
411 reviews68 followers
February 12, 2021
This is such a sweet and heartfelt story, told from Charlie's POV. Don't let the book cover fool you. I didn't read the book blurb before reading the book, so based on the cover I expected a cute story about a girl and her dog. It's so much more!

Charlie is a feisty fifth grade girl whose parents can't properly care for her. As a result she's placed under the care of her aunt and uncle, who live in a different city. Not only does Charlie need to leave her family and her home, but now she must also attend a new school. This is Charlie's story about love, friendship, and acceptance.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,259 reviews488 followers
January 19, 2023
Charlie makes a wish every day. On an eyelash. Three birds on a power line. A yellow railroad car. A star. She has been collecting ways to wish and doesn't ever let one go to waste. What is her wish? It definitely isn't going to live with Gus & Bertha in a little bitty town. And she doesn't want an "up and down" boy like Howard for her backpack buddy, either. Fortunately, as time goes by a dog named Wishbone and some other changes will show Charlie that her wish is coming true. Barbara O'Connor definitely has a gift for writing about dogs and kids. I have loved every title I have ready from her. The families in this book are not well off, but they are blessed in so many intangible ways. And a dog like Wishbone is like icing on the cake. Charlie's wish may come true before she even realizes it has happened.
Profile Image for Emily Montjoy.
46 reviews40 followers
May 22, 2016
This has to be one of my favorite books I've read so far this year! Barbara O'Connor does it again! She writes a beautiful story that has just enough humor to provide the right amount of laughter mixed with moments that pull on your heart strings. I fell in love with the characters, each playing such an important part in developing the plot of the story. The southern dialect and attention to detail helped me to really get into the story! O'Connor's choice of words and language make this a story that begs to be read out loud. Charlie, the main character, goes to live with an aunt and uncle when her parents can't take care of her any more. She feels abandoned and unwanted. With the help of a new friend, Howard, a stray dog she takes in, and her aunt and uncle, Charlie finally finds her place to belong. This is a story of friendship, family, and never giving up on your wishes!
Profile Image for Dylan Teut.
377 reviews137 followers
April 24, 2016
I raced through this book in one night/day. And I finished it with a big happy cry. The book was so good for my heart and soul. And I know just what I need now: More Barbara O'Connor books.
Profile Image for Amanda Schreiber.
92 reviews40 followers
June 23, 2016
The magical cover is only a start to this wonderful book! Wish has to be one if my favorites of 2016! Students will devour this book. Told with humor & honesty this book follows Charlie's attempt to fit in, in a new town & capture a stray dog named Wishbone. Will Charlie love her new life? Or will her temper prevent her from making friends? Will her wish finally come true?

Charlie, Howard, Bertha, Gus & Wishbone are a cast of characters students will love & adore! Add this to your TBR & library ASAP!
Profile Image for Sarah Swann.
713 reviews983 followers
March 4, 2019
I read this for my Materials for Children class. And it was adorable! I really could relate to the main character, Charlie. She is a young girl dealing with moving to a different city to live with her aunt and uncle after her parents fell apart. While that didn’t ever happen to me, I did move around as a kid with my father being in the military. So I understood being in a new city around new people and how hard it can be to adjust. She found comfort in an awkward boy and a stray dog. Being a dog lover myself, I related to her on that level as well. This books was heart warming and sweet and a great lesson in what it is to be a real family.
Profile Image for Theresa Grissom.
802 reviews22 followers
February 21, 2017
Wonderful book! I basically read this in one sitting. I believe a lot of the upper elementary kids at my school will relate to this book.
Profile Image for CallMeAfterCoffee.
126 reviews235 followers
August 3, 2020
Perfect book to read with your kiddos! Mine both adored it ☺️

Charlie is a little rough around the edges, Howard is just sweeter than anything in the world. I love their friendship, I love found family books. Oh and I read the last tmfew pages through my own tears while my daughter's eyes "we're getting wet" (that's how she says it haha) beside me.

I originally bought this for my Reiny (8) and he liked it so much he asked me to read it with Owl (5). Definitely a heartwarming story 💕.
Profile Image for Aryana Parmar.
268 reviews8 followers
April 21, 2018
Wow, this was a really heartbreaking story, but I loved it so much. I loved all of it, but some phrases of the story really struck me. My favorite one was "That was it. I looked at the word love. I traced the letters with my finger. Then I folded the paper up and put it back in the envelope." I just though that was so overwhelming but I loved it so much because it defined the mc so much and really sharpened the perspective. Oh my, this book made what was supposed to be a relaxing Saturday a heart-rending time to curl up in a ball and bawl my eyes out. But really, I loved the book and I think everyone should read it!
Profile Image for Willow Anne.
404 reviews81 followers
November 13, 2022
What a cute book💜 I absolutely loved this! I randomly came across it at a thrift store because the cute cover drew me in, and I'm so happy I did! It's a beautiful addition to my shelf, both inside and out💕

I love middle grade stories, and books like these are why. They're so innocently heartfelt, and I just love the way that children view the world. It's so much simpler but at the same time so much more all-consuming. Every little moment means so much, and it's so precious.

I'll definitely be checking out more books by this author, because this was an absolutely beautiful surprise.
Profile Image for Nhi Nguyễn.
964 reviews1,220 followers
February 2, 2019
Truyện gì đâu mà dễ thương quá trời <3 <3 <3 Cô bé Charlemagne “Charlie” phải rời khỏi thành phố Raleigh để đến sống cùng gia đình người dì ruột Bertha và chồng của bà là Gus tại thị trấn Colby heo hút tại North Carolina, sau khi cha của em thì phải đi tù vì tội đánh nhau, còn mẹ em thì thần kinh không ổn định, không đủ khả năng để nuôi con.

Cô bé Charlie luôn ước ao mình có được một gia đình trọn vẹn, không bị xé nát, được ở chung một nhà với ba mẹ và chị gái Jackie, được trở về thời quá khứ với những kỷ niệm đẹp, chứ không phải thực tại phũ phàng thế này, khi em đến sống tại một ngôi nhà cheo leo bên vách núi, tại một thị trấn xa xôi, kiểu vùng nông thôn, nơi người dân bị đồn là “chuyên ăn thịt sóc”. Charlie, với tâm tính nắng mưa thất thường, khó bảo, khó gần của một đứa trẻ ở độ tuổi dậy thì, lại gặp nhiều chuyện không may trong cuộc sống, đã căm ghét vô cùng cái thị trấn Colby đó, căm ghét cảnh sống xa cha mẹ, xa người chị ruột, mặc dù dì Bertha và bác Gus luôn hết lòng yêu thương, chăm sóc cho em.

Cũng dễ hiểu khi mà tất cả những gì Charlie luôn mong mỏi là một gia đình trọn vẹn, và hình ảnh gia đình ấy, em luôn nghĩ rằng chỉ có thể đạt được khi em quay lại Raleigh, khi ba em ra tù và mẹ em bình thường trở lại. Và suốt những tháng ngày sống ở Colby, những khi bắt gặp một cảnh tượng, hiện tượng nào đó có thể ban cho em một điều ước (đồng hồ chỉ 11h11, ba con chim đậu trên dây điện, 14 hàng hột bắp đều tăm tắp,…), em đều ước ao một gia đình trọn vẹn cho riêng mình.

Rồi với sự xuất hiện của “cậu bạn kèm cặp” Howard tóc đỏ và dáng đi cà nhắc, cùng chú chó hoang mà em gọi là Xương Chạc, Charlie dần dần nhận ra, hóa ra điều em luôn ước ao mong mỏi bấy lâu nay, em đã có được từ lâu rồi – gia đình trọn vẹn và giàu tình yêu thương ấy đã luôn ở bên em, dưới hình ảnh của dì Bertha, bác Gus, Xương Chạc… Hành trình để Charlie nhận ra sự thật ấy, cũng như để em học được rằng, gia đình không phải lúc nào cũng được xây dựng dựa trên máu mủ, mà là dựa trên tình yêu thương, hoàn toàn không phải là một hành trình dễ dàng cho cả Charlie lẫn những người thân của em.

Có nhiều đoạn thực sự xúc động, khi Charlie nhìn thấy cách gia đình Howard vui vẻ, hòa thuận bên nhau, và em chạnh lòng khi nghĩ đến tình cảnh của mình; khi Charlie mong mỏi được ở bên chị Jackie, nhưng rồi cũng như cha mẹ em, những người em yêu thương đều bỏ em mà đi mất… Khi Charlie học cách cư xử đúng đắn với một cậu bạn hết mực dễ thương là Howard, khi em dần dần mở lòng ra để đón nhận tình bạn, tình yêu thương, sự quan tâm, chăm sóc của những người thực sự muốn yêu thương em, bầu bạn với em.

Cảnh trí vùng Colby được tác giả miêu tả quá sức đẹp và quá sức nên thơ, làm mình cũng muốn tới đó sống suốt đời :))) Tuổi trẻ thì thường thích tới những chốn ồn ào, đông đúc, sôi động, nhộn nhịp để tìm kiếm những cơ hội mới, thách thức mới, trải nghiệm mới, nhưng chả hiểu sao mình chưa già mà đã thích về chốn nông thôn, không xồ bồ, không náo nhiệt để bình tâm rồi ha ha ha :D :D :D Không biết địa danh Colby ở North Carolina có thật không nhỉ? ^^ Nếu có thật thì mình muốn tới thăm thú một lần :)))
Profile Image for Jennie Louwes.
190 reviews38 followers
August 3, 2020
Ultimately, a heartwarming tale that will take you through all the feels. You'll hear a nonstop, pleasant, Southern twang within conversation, feel the heat of the dog days of Summer, and gain insight into the emotions a child may feel as their daddy is being corrected and their mama is incapable of getting on her feet.

This is a book about friendship and family and how sometimes the things we wish for come true right before our eyes but we're incapable of seeing them clearly until others see it in us and around us first.

This is a book about a girl and her dog too.

"Because of Winn-Dixie" left me wanting my own dog and a tree with bottles hanging from it in my backyard. This book, "Wish", has me wanting a dog named Wishbone and a house built into the side of a mountain, out in a country-like setting, where the skies are clear enough to see the first star come out each night.

I gave this book 4 stars because some of the conversations felt a wee bit stilted in places. A lot of moving parts and characters with an overarching theme. It was written and done well but fell a bit short of perfection to me.

I love, love, love the love and affection displayed by Bertha and Gus, the main protagonist's aunt and uncle, towards one another as well as to Charlie herself. Calling Charlie, "Butterbean", what a gem of a nickname/term of endearment!

I loved the neighbors, the Odom's, and how dirty but joyous and good their home life was despite the chaos presented from an abundance of boys being boys.

The juxtaposition of both homes in comparison to what Charlie had been reared in is stark and all too real.

I recommend this book to social workers, families that are fostering children, and to those children themselves who have been displaced. For humanity's sake, never forget people's humanness; and, help others to find and discover coping skills that work for them! Saying the word, "Pineapple" for instance when you're angry or frustrated! Before allowing your emotions to get the best of you simply say, "Pineapple", and be willing and able to walk away until you return yourself to a more peaceful state.

By page 53 I was crying. Everyone deserves and needs to be told what a blessing they are in the lives of others. Not only the words being said but the actions of embrace and feelings of love that often follow words like those once they've been spoken.

I also was a puddle of mush as this book came to a close. So much good and just the outcome I had wished for.

A hearty 4 stars, I highly recommend; this is a good read!
Profile Image for Christina Hanson.
115 reviews27 followers
July 22, 2016
Three birds on a wire. Seeing 11:11 on a clock. Finding 14 rows on an ear of corn. These were just a few of the unique things that Charlie would make a secret wish on in Barbara O'Connor's book Wish. Charlie has been wishing for the same thing since fourth grade, and she's not stopping now. After moving in with her aunt and uncle, Charlie becomes friends with neighbor-boy, Howard, who seems wise beyond his years, and also keeps feisty Charlie in check (pineapple, pineapple, pineapple!). One day, Charlie and Howard spot a stray dog, and she makes it her goal to catch him. After finally catching Wishbone, Charlie feels an immediate connection, and they are inseparable. But will Charlie's secret wish ever come true? Wish is a beautifully written book about perseverance, hope, and friendship! My wish is that you and your students will love this story and characters as much as I did! Pre-order this one now!
Profile Image for Augusta Scattergood.
Author 3 books113 followers
June 15, 2016
I can't wait for this book to get into the hands of young readers. So many things for them to love!

The characters will make you laugh and will totally win your hearts, even Charlie at her unhappy grumpiest. And the dog, ah- the dog! Love him, too. A perfect read-aloud, WISH has so much to talk about with middle-grade readers. Don't miss this one.
Profile Image for Sisters Three.
88 reviews82 followers
November 4, 2021
I think my favorite part of this book was that it was set in Colby, NC which is about two hours from where we live...That was cool because most of the places it mentioned we've been to.
Profile Image for Linda .
3,660 reviews40 followers
September 24, 2016
This is the quietest book that begins to squeeze your heart, slowly, slowly, until you realize that you are looking for things to wish on just like Charlie, but just for Charlie! Charlie has been taken to her Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus's home after it's been determined that she is no longer in a stable environment. Her father is in jail and her mother doesn't get out of bed. Her sister is about to graduate from high school so gets to move in with a friend. Charlie is alone in what she thinks of as a sad house in the Blue Ridge mountains, among those "awful" hillbillies. She must finish her fifth grade year, and it's not a friendly place. But Charlie doesn't exactly know how to make friends, and is also in trouble with the teacher quite a bit. Sadly, this is not a sympathetic teacher, although I kept hoping! It's after school is out that the story deepens. I loved that Barbara O'Connor keeps Charlie surrounded with love, from Bertha and Gus, from her only friend, Howard's family, from the setting and finally from a stray dog, Wishbone. That's part of the sweet story too. A dog's love cures a lot of things, and he helps Charlie, too. Without telling all the story, just know that as others have said, it's worth reading and learning from the inside out what a child who also feels like a stray wishes for every single day.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
881 reviews251 followers
June 12, 2019
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

Short and Simple Review
I picked this book up because it looked like a heartfelt MG book featuring the love of dogs. This book wasn't quite what I expected. I thought the dog would be more prominent. There was a bit where Charlie decided that the stray wondering around would become hers, but this was over really quickly so it wasn't as much of a dog book as I expected. That being said, this was still a wonderful book. It talks about some difficult things, such as family issues, but it is discussed in a voice that fits the age of the MC. I really liked Charlie and it made my heart hurt at times because she wanted a family and was prone to being angry. Overall this was a quick read and this would certainly be an MG book that I would recommend.
Profile Image for Sarah.
190 reviews45 followers
June 25, 2016
I received this e-book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by saying that the story is just as beautiful as the cover! I definitely need to get a copy of this for my classroom library because I know my students will fall in love with these characters!

The main character, Charlie Reese, is a young girl who has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle due to an unstable home life. All she wants is to go back home and be with her family, even though she knows it isn't that simple. Charlie believes that if she just keeps on wishing, things will turn out right. Along the way, she learns that love and friendship can be found even in the most unlikely places...even in the form of a stray dog!

A must-read for all ages!
Profile Image for Clare Lund.
604 reviews7 followers
April 13, 2018
I loved everything about this book!! Starting with its gorgeous cover art and a main character I took to immediately, Wish is a story about hope in the face of hopelessness. Reading this book will break your heart, and then restore your faith in humanity. I am always humbled as a teacher how Barbara O’Connor opens my eyes to the stories behind “bad behavior” we sometimes see in our students, as she did years ago with How to Steal a Dog (which I also highly recommend). Ages 8 and up!
Profile Image for Sarah Levy.
135 reviews10 followers
May 4, 2016
How many times can you wish for something before it comes true? A great story of the true meaning of family, friendship, and love. I adored living and learning alongside Charlie as she battled through a difficult time in her life. Will definitely be recommending this one to my students!
Profile Image for Melanie.
Author 6 books202 followers
May 20, 2017
I love this book. Charlie's story is a love letter to the Blue Ridge mountains, complete with characters who will warm your heart as well as any human being alive. O'Connor is a master of middle grade. Do not miss this beautiful, heartfelt story.
Profile Image for Jacquelyn.
444 reviews205 followers
June 14, 2016
I was sent an ARC by the publisher for free in return for an honest review.

What a cute read! I was hooked on this story line and the characters all day. When I had to put it down, the only thing I wanted to do was pick it back up again. I haven't read a whole book (it was short but shh) in one day like this in months. The characters were what really made this story. They all had such real and true personalities and I even felt that I "knew" the dog as well. It was such an inspiring and cute little story about the power of wishing and what family really means.

I would definitely recommend this one, especially for tween readers. I know this would have been one of my favorite books if I had read this around that age. I read it know and still believe that it is a very empowering novel that has a lot to offer. A great mix of plot, thematic concepts, characters, and a very simplistic yet beautiful writing style. I really enjoyed this one and would definitely recommend if you are looking for a middle grade story, no matter what age you are!
Profile Image for erin.
54 reviews2 followers
August 11, 2021
Great for kids. Enough of a story to keep a reluctant reading 10 year old going.
There is the underlying plot - the wish- as well as lots of conflicts for the main character. Not insipid at all. Very sweet. Likable characters.
While there are difficult concepts - (unfit parents) - there is no objectionable material. No underlying political agenda points or problematic situations. It’s hard for parents to know these things without reading ahead so I’m sharing. This is Gramma approved. 🙌🏼 I enjoyed it as well.
Profile Image for Ursula.
259 reviews11 followers
June 4, 2017
Wish is a wonderful book that kids will connect with. It would make a great read aloud and should be in every classroom library. The characters are realistic and embrace their imperfections. Life has struggles and families and friends help each other out. Forgiveness and love are two very important themes in this book.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,832 reviews35 followers
November 12, 2019
Home isn't always what or where you think it is in this touching story. Charlie's dad is in a correctional facility, Mom rarely gets out of bed and her older sister is living with a friend's family (so she can finish her senior year of high school). When Charlie is sent to live with an aunt, she finds out the true meaning of a home.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,286 reviews216 followers
June 22, 2020
WISH is a sweet, middle grade novel about Charlie, a girl with a bad temper, a dad who’s in jail and a mentally ill mom. She winds up in foster care with her aunt and uncle then finds a stray dog, a best friend and the family she always wanted.

WISH is probably too slow paced for most middle grade readers. What WISH lacks in plot it makes up for in heartwarming characters and story. Ten-year-old Charlie might is likely too young for older MG readers and not interesting enough for younger readers just beginning to independently read chapter books, so WISH may fall through the cracks of finding the right audience.

Kids in foster care, with mentally ill parents or with parents in prison will relate most to Charlie.
Profile Image for Susan Crowe.
805 reviews5 followers
August 27, 2019
Pineapple, canning jars and Cinderella pillows!!! 

This was the Daily Deal not long ago and i picked it up. I am so glad I did. This is an absolutely wonderful book. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby. Yep, it's that good. And the narrator? Perfect for this book!!
I laughed. I cried. I love this book.
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