Title: How To Make A Wish
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)
Publisher/Date: HMH Books For Young Readers/2 May 2017
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.
I received this book from the publisher as a prize for the 24 in 48 Readathon last summer. Thank you! This book has content warnings for death, car accidents, child neglect/abuse, and sexual harassment.
I loved this book! I especially loved the relationships and the friendships in this book — they were not perfect, but they were supportive and caring when few support systems were available for Grace and Eva. There was effort, although often misguided, and I really appreciated the direction in which those relationships went.
Grace and Eva were lovely. Grace is bi and Eva is a Black lesbian, and I absolutely adored the way they interacted with each other. It was clear from the start that they had chemistry, and their interactions were really touching and sweet and progressed in a nice manner.
For as difficult a character as Grace’s mom is, I think Blake managed to pull her off quite well. She’s a person who is very self-absorbed and doesn’t take the time to see how her actions affect those around her, but it’s also clear that she genuinely believes that her actions are fine and that she’s acting for the best. She’s not intentionally malicious and it’s easy to tell that she does care about Grace, but she isn’t showing it by giving Grace what she actually needs. She is into the idea of giving Grace what she needs and makes promises, but when opportunities arise that sound better to her, she writes off Grace’s needs as things that maybe weren’t so important to begin with regardless of how important they actually are. It’s really frustrating, but I really like how her attractive side also shows through with her interactions with Grace, who doesn’t want to abandon her mom, and with Eva, who is getting sucked up in her tales.
I also really loved the musical passions of the girls! Grace is a gifted piano player and Eva is a ballerina, and I loved how those identities played out in the book as they struggled with each of them — Grace through the prospect of having to give up her dreams, and Eva through her struggling with the loss of her mom. Their hobbies and talents weren’t surface-level — they were deeply ingrained in their characters, and that’s something that I really appreciated seeing.
This book was darker than I expected it to be when I picked it up, but I still really loved it! It’s a very touching romance with some sadder elements and some scenes that will frustrate you, and it’s very much worth reading. The writing and pacing are fantastic, and the story sucks you in. I highly recommend this one.
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars