As You Wish, by Chelsea Sedoti (2018)

As You Wish, by Chelsea SedotiBe careful what you wish for. That’s the lesson Eldon Wilkes is learning as he approaches his 18th birthday, a big event in the isolated town of Madison, Nevada. That’s when you get to make a wish and – it will happen. Oh, sure, there are rules. You can’t wish for more wishes, and you can’t ask for something that will impact the outside world (like world peace, or being a pro NFL player) but the locals are pretty good at finding ways to get what they want. Money is a common request, as is beauty, and happiness. Some wishes are funny – a truck, or a lifetime supply of pot. Others speak to the desperation in some lives – to be loved, or for transcripts good enough to get into Harvard and away the hell from Madison. Eldon’s mother wants him to use his wish to help his little sister, hospitalized and comatose in Las Vegas after a car accident. Because she is outside Madison, the only real option is to wish for money to hire the best doctors, but Eldon knows she cannot possibly recover. This leaves him with two options – “waste” his wish on money, or disappoint his mother. Money, love, health, fame, power, happiness, success – how can one possibly know what to wish for? As Eldon’s big day approaches, he asks everyone he meets about their wishes and finds tales of regret and unhappiness everywhere. The more he learns, the less convinced Eldon is that he even wants to make a wish. I love this magical coming of age story! Eldon and his friends’ struggle against the norms of their little town, as weird as it is, will resonate with teens everywhere facing their own life decisions about university, careers, love, and life. Sedoti, author of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, has again created a wonderful set of complicated and flawed characters that people the town of Madison, all counting on a happy and fulfilling life if they can just nail that wish. The dialogue is sharp and witty, and the hot, dry and isolated desert setting (including the fascinating Area 51 town of Rachel) just adds to the magical realism of this YA tale. My thanks to Sourcebooks for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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