Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Nikki Loftin
Publisher: Razor Bill
The first time Peter goes to the valley, it’s to get away from his family. The second time he goes, it’s to feel that magic in the air again. Almost every time after that, it’s to see Annie. Annie calls herself a wish girl because she makes wishes and people usually grant them, but it’s only because she’s sick. She’s so sick that she could die or, through invasive treatments, become a different person. She has only a few weeks before her next treatments, and she intends to witness as much magic and create as much art in that time as possible. At first, Peter is annoyed at Annie’s presence in his one quiet place. But then Annie opens up his world. It isn’t until Peter sees how short Annie’s life could be that he realizes how precious his own life is, and how grateful he is for the freedom to use it how he chooses. As Annie and Peter grapple with their issues, the valley aids them in whatever ways it can.
Wish Girl is about the power of connection and what makes people who they are. Author Nikki Loftin employs magical realism in her discussion of Peter and Annie’s valley. When the pair are outside the valley, the world is very realistic and never seems to extend beyond the confines of the expected. But when they are within this space, nature becomes whatever they need it to be, and sometimes that means that it does things that stretch the imagination and force the reader to suspend disbelief. In this way, the valley could almost be considered a third main character alongside Annie and Peter, as it actively interacts with the pair and influences their stories. Ultimately, the author takes risks in her telling of the story, but those risks are skillfully taken. The story is artistically told, but the artistic element isn’t forced. The ending of the book does seem rushed and lacks the same depth that the rest of the book has, but the overall story is satisfying.
*Contains mild violence.