Title: As You Wish
Author: Chelsea Sedoti
Genre: Young Adult, Magical
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars
This was a surprisingly compelling and morally interesting book. Chelsea Sedoti has taken the idea of having one wish and applied it to so many different outcomes. Both good and bad.This young adult book is a version of a coming of age novel but it doesn't read like any I've read before.
The Wish Stories
Without a doubt the best part of As You Wish are the stories that are told by town members about what they wished for and why. Each of them is like a fable. There is a reason, a justification, an outcome and ultimately emotion that lingers long after. These are the cornerstone of the moral issues that Sedoti is focusing on throughout the book.
Here's where Sedoti falls down a bit. The characters are fairly cliche. Mostly only defined by what they wished for, or plan to wish for (in the case of the students). At the High School we have the jock, the pretty girl, the nerd, the social justice warrior, etc. Then there's also townsfolk that are even more cliche (if possible): the arrogant mayor, the compassionate doctor, the drunk, the town recluse, the odd older lady, etc. While I understand that there are a fair number of characters that Sedoti wants our main guy to encounter (so he can collect their wish stories) the reality was that they felt just a bit too boxed in. Definitely room for improvement here.
It will be clear to you from the opening 10% of As You Wish that our small town setting is intentional and critical to the logic (if we can call it that) and rules of the wishing/magic to work. This couldn't be a story told in any other setting due to it's focus on keeping secrets. Interestingly the setting asks it's own moral question to the reader. At what point are you hiding and hoarding something in order to protect it versus not share it?
I don't know if Madison is a real town in Nevada or not; but having been at and spent a lot of time in the small town my grandparents live I've long learned that small towns have a personality and mind of their own and Sedoti has set-up Madison to be no different, and yet extraordinarily different, from any other town.
While there was perhaps too many pages after the ultimate climax; I still loved the ending of this book. From about the 40% read mark I knew what I thought would be the best (and most interesting) outcome for the story. However as we experience life alongside our main guy there is cause for concern that we were going to have a very different ending. I'm thankful that it was the ending I was hoping for. This doesn't happen often so it's nice to read a story from someone who thinks of the world the way I do. Any number of endings could have been impactful here; but I think Sedoti chose perfectly.
It even brought almost tears to my eyes (which is quite the feat)!
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone that wants to read about moral issues (young or old). Ultimately I'd say this is more of a 3.5 stars read but I'm willing to round up just because I loved the ending.
You'll find yourself asking some of the big questions in life: what is selfish, what is righteous, what is right or wrong to wish for and ultimately ask yourself what would you wish for?
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.