Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Seventh Wish

Volume Twenty Three in the Books That Matter Series

A couple months ago, I bought The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner. At the time, I was reading another book so I put it in my to be read pile, not realizing what a gem I had waiting for me. Then last week, when a friend said that she'd read the book and would let me borrow it, I remembered I had it so I fished it out of my pile and started reading it.

The Seventh Wish is a middle grade fantasy novel with a much deeper reality. Charlie Brennan is a normal middle school student with an older sister in college, several close friends, and a passion for Irish dancing. But one day when Charlie is ice fishing with a friend and his nana, she catches a magical fish that grants wishes. Having read stories of people who make wishes through other magical sources, Charlie understands the risks but still gets caught up in the allure of her wish-fish. However, Charlie's addiction is not the only one faced in this story. There is a more serious situation working its way into her life, but you must read the book to find out what it is.

I met Kate Messner a few years ago at a conference where she gave an inspirational speech. Then, she was talking about her book, Eye of the Storm, and of course I read it after that. So I was excited when I heard that she was releasing a new book, this one a fantasy. I was surprised--though I should not have been--by how serious this novel was and how much parallel there was between the fantasy elements and the true life moments. The Seventh Wish proves that fantasy can be a powerful vehicle to bring forth deeper real world problems that many are struggling with today. There is an author's note at the the back of the book that provides important information for people who are seeking additional resources. The Seventh Wish is a must read and a book that truly matters.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Still A Work In Progress

Volume Twenty Two in the Books That Matter Series

Author, Jo Knowles, is the master of books that matter. Her new middle grade novel, Still A Work In Progress, proves to be anything but that. Much like See You At Harry's (Volume Five in the Books That Matter Series), there is a clear before and after to this book. The story opens with Noah, a seventh grader going about everyday activities with his two best friends, Ryan and Sam; his older sister, Emma; her dog, the Captain; the school's hairless pet cat, Curly, who wears various handmade sweater vests; and his parents who live by Emma's ever growing vegan food rules. Throughout the beginning, Noah hints at a scary problem under the surface of his everyday life and refers to it as "the Thing They Don't Talk About."

With his two best friends becoming more interested in girls and Emma's well being a growing concern on everyone's mind, Noah often feels unnoticed. He's the one who is not supposed to cause waves, not give his parents any trouble, and not complain about Emma's demands when it comes to food. He's the one who blends into the background, only allowed to shine through his artistic abilities.

Still A Work In Progress is heart wrenching and Noah's devastation is palpable. It moved me to tears several times, but also made me laugh out loud in other moments. It balances humor and everyday life with the heartaches and struggles of a family just trying their best to help a loved one through a serious illness. But this is not Emma's story, it is Noah's.