How to Make a Wish
Genre: Young Adult, GLBT, Contemporary
All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.
Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.
How to Make a Wish is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, so I was incredibly excited to sign up to this particular book tour. I am loving the number of bisexual characters in recent YA, and I knew that I would have to read this one. While How to Make a Wish doesn’t solely focus on bisexuality, I found it to be a stunning read. NB: there are trigger warnings for alcoholism, mistreatment of children, drunk driving, death of parents, and unhealthy mechanisms for coping with grief.
The best thing about this book is that all of the relationships are complicated. The relationship between Grace and her mother Maggie was absolutely incredible, because Herring Blake really goes into the idea of loving and hating the same person simultaneously. I loved the way that Grace wants to believe in the best, but ultimately has to come to terms with the fact that her relationship with her mother is not okay, and that something needs to change. Grace is such a fantastic character in that regard – she changes and comes to terms with the less-than-stellar things that she’s done in the past, whilst remaining a delightfully sarcastic teenager.
When How to Make a Wish does talk about sexuality, it does it well. It actually made me laugh, because Grace’s friend Luca refers to her as a ‘baby bisexual’ and that is what I used to call myself!! There is also a great conversation between Grace and Eva, where they say:
I guessed I was queer for a long time before I really let myself just … be queer.
This is exactly how I felt when I was 17. There’s finally a description of the reasons why Grace finds girls and guys attractive, and it was fantastic. She really goes into detail about how bodies are so different, and how she is attracted to them for different reasons, but how it doesn’t change anything. I don’t know if the author is bisexual herself, but everything about it rang true for me.
A note: Eva is biracial. Ashely Herring Blake is not, and I’m not either, so I really can’t comment on this particular representation. While nothing problematic jumped out at me, I would be interested in what biracial bloggers have to say about Eva.
Although How to Make a Wish is not the most uplifting of novels, I found myself binge-reading it throughout the night. If you’re looking for a realistic YA novel that really talks about the complications of sexuality and mother-daughter relationships, I couldn’t recommend this more.