Title: How to Make a Wish
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: ★★★★★/5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA (f/f relationship)
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.
“It’s a peaceful kind of silence. Easy. And dammit if it isn’t nice to let something be easy.”
Grace Glasser kind of has the most irresponsible mother I’ve ever read about in a YA book which says a lot since we come across a lot of mothers who do absolutely nothing to help their children in YA. Maggie Glasser is the kind of mother you want to shake and just beg to be better to her 17 year old kid who had to grow up very fast and take care of her own mom. There was no moment in this book in which I didn’t want to reach over and possible strangle Maggie for putting Grace through the worst.
All her life, Grace simply deals with Maggie’s alcoholism, her lack of commitment, her delusion about how “fine” they are. Grace grew up and did it fast and in the process she developed this thick skin that did nothing to help her from the pain her mother caused her with her insensitivity. I absolutely loved Grace’s voice in this book. She had me hooked since page one and I couldn’t help but adore her. Sure, Grace comes off kind of gruff but there is nothing about her that isn’t so real and palpable. She is a breathing character with her own ambition and fears and wishes.
I especially loved the exploration of Grace’s sexuality. She’s bisexual and her feelings felt so good to read. It felt like something I’d try to use to articulate how I personally felt when I began getting feelings for girls. Her attraction to Eva was so fluffy and good. She offered Eva comfort but did not ignore that Eva needed help that should come from professionals since Eva was dealing with her mother passing away. These two girls had so much chemistry that I couldn’t help but pout at the end. I definitely wanted more and more.
Eva on the other hand is this beautiful girl who loses her mother. I felt so greatly for Eva, having lost my father at a young age. The whole change of her life must have been so daunting but she braved through. I loved the girls’ ambition and them having this artistic side to them, Grace as a pianist and Eva as a dancer. The description of certain scenes involving these two things were so magical I couldn’t help but sign in contentment.
Another fantastic aspect in this novel is the involvement of minor characters. I considered Grace and Eva as the mains and everyone else sort of was the perfect bouquet of characters I’ve only read in a handful of other books. There is Grace’s best friend Luca, his family who host in Eva, and Grace’s mother as well as her Ex-boyfriend and his dad. It surprised me that I even began to like Jay (Julian) and that he didn’t need an intense redeeming arc for him to be seen as human. Sure he did something absolutely shitty but that didn’t stop him from being a complex character with good and bad sides. Luca and Grace had such a refreshing friendship devoid from any clichés concerning boy/girl friendships. They were handsy like siblings would be and they got pissed at each other in the same manner too, which really made me like them. Luca’s mom Emmy truly made me sob at a certain moment because she provided for Grace the only parental guidance that she needed so badly.
Over all, the characters are well-rounded and complex without any clichés. There is diversity of race and sexuality seeing as Eva is biracial (her mother was black and her father was white) and queer and Grace is bisexual. This book is also sex-positive and I liked how honest Grace was about how she was attracted to girls (and boys). It’s also cute how Grace is shorter than Eva… Sign me up with that height difference trope, yo!
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants something that would move them and make them smile.
About the Author
Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.