As You Wish by Jackson Pearce. (Grades 7+)
Full disclosure: I picked up this ARC at ALA, also I've wanted to be Jackson Pearce's BFF for, like, a year. Ever since I saw this video.
I almost didn't want to start this book. See, I was afraid that after looking forward to it for so long it wouldn't hold up to my expectations.
Um, I shouldn't have worried. This book is fabulous.
Right from the opening passage, I was intrigued with the premise:
All I've learned in today's Shakespeare class is: Sometimes you have to fall in love with the wrong person just so you can find the right person. A more useful lesson would've been: Sometimes the right person doesn't love you back. Or sometimes the right person is gay. Or sometimes you just aren't the right person.
Thanks for nothing, Shakespeare.
See, Viola was in love. With Lawrence. Her best friend. Who loves her back. And who is also gay. Ever since Lawrence came out and they broke up, Viola has felt like a piece of her is missing. She doesn't know who she is anymore. She used to be this perfect piece of the puzzle that is high school; she nestled in quite nicely next to Lawrence. But now she feels broken and she doesn't know who to hang out with or how to fit in.
Enter Jinn. He's a genie assigned to grant Viola three wishes. His job is to get in, grant the wishes, and get back to his home world of Caliban. He hates the way he ages in the human world. He can feel his hair getting longer, his life growing shorter. But as Viola takes her time deciding what to wish for, Jinn gets to know her and starts to see that living life as a human might have its appeal.
The problem? Once Jinn grants her three wishes, he'll go back to Caliban and Viola will have no memory of him being there. A bird and a fish might fall in love, but where would they live?
I was just whisked into the story from the very start. Jackson Pearce's writing is funny and snappy and I just didn't want to put the book down. Pearce creates characters you love to love. Viola's got a problem that most kids have probably dealt with at some point in their lives - something changes and BAM! you have no idea where you fit in with the world. Jinn is adorably snooty when he first comes to the human world and I can hear the sighs of girls everywhere as they fall in love with him just like Viola did.
The book's not entirely perfect. I felt like Viola's feelings of ostracism were never completely explained. I mean, she didn't have ANY other friends while she was dating Lawrence? At the same time, having been through something of a similar situation myself, I could see what Pearce was going for, so that's not a major complaint. It didn't stop me from loving the story.
Jackson Pearce is a member of the 2009 Debutantes and she makes fabulous video blogs, like this one:
As You Wish is on shelves August 25.