Wish is a YA contemporary novel with a splash of fantasy, written by Alexandra Bullen.
Olivia Larsen has always been the quieter, more timid version of her vivacious, outgoing twin sister Violet. But Violet died, and now Olivia is a shadow of her already in-the-background former self. So when her parents' move the family to San Francisco, Olivia doesn't miss her friends, really. They were always more Violet's friends anyway. She's aware that she should be upset at the sudden move across the country, but she doesn't feel anything anymore.
However, when her mother invites Olivia to a cocktail party for her work, Olivia decides to go. She takes the beautiful, but torn, dress Violet had bought, but had never gotten a chance to wear, to a seamstress... hoping to feel closer to her twin. But instead of the repaired dress being sent back, a stunning, but different, dress arrives on her doorstep in its place. There's a magic to it. A literal magic, Olivia finds out, when while wearing the dress, in a moment of utter despair she mutters the words aloud, "I just wish I had my sister back."
Because the next morning, her sister is back. And upon questioning of the seamstress, Olivia finds out she gets two more wishes. In her joy, Olivia can only think of how wonderful it is to have her sister back. But Violet is still dead. And Olivia is still broken. Will having Violet back help, or hurt, Olivia's healing?
One of the most astounding things about Wish, to me, was how the sense of Olivia's sadness really radiates immediately. Her personality is quickly fermented in the reader's mind, and her awkwardness and introvert tendencies are easily likable and relatable.
At first, I didn't know what to think when Olivia's wish brought Violet back, albeit still dead. I couldn't see where the plot would go in terms of a YA fantasy. What I didn't realize is that Wish isn't so much a paranormal or fantasy YA novel, as much as a story about a girl who needs to learn how to live, a girl who is in deep mourning. And despite my inability to see this early on, my attachment to Olivia as a character helped me to wait it out, and find out.
Wish is a sweet, gentle, sensitive, and charming tale - not what I expected and not as riveting and mysterious as I had thought it would be, but somehow better than my expectations. There is an understatedly realistic tone to Wish, as it always refrains from being a gossipy, back-stabbing cliche.
It's also quietly, hesitantly, clumsily romantic - perfectly believable. Alexandra Bullen flabbergasted me by how she portrayed the raw pain and heartbreak of loss, love, and fear. She caused me to have a lump in my throat more than once.
At first I was underwhelmed, but as the grief and healing of Wish was lyrically weaved into a slight, refined fantasy I was, instead, overwhelmed. This is one of those novels that leaves an impact. This is one of those novels that makes you deeply care about the characters and identify with them in an alarmingly personal way. This is one of those novels you have to read.
Wish is a book worth savoring, bittersweet and lovely.
Special Note: Remember to check out the Bibliophile Support Group before you go out partying on Friday! There will be an EXTRA SPECIAL New Years Eve post - highlighting the stand out books of 2010! Mark it on your calendar!