How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Genre: YA Contemporary | Diversity: bisexual MC & biracial LI | My Rating:
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances.
One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.
How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.
file this under: 2017 releases that deserve all the hype
How to Make a Wish is the heartbreaking story of Grace, a girl who’s had to grow up to take care of her irresponsible mother, and Eva, a biracial girl who’s grieving the loss of her ballerina mother. This is an f/f romance with an on-the-page bisexual main character that I can’t recommend highly enough. Some reasons you should read this book if you haven’t already:
#1: the portrayal of Grace’s mom. Maggie could easily have been written as the Bad Mom trope: she’s an alcoholic, can’t hold a job, and hardly pays enough attention to her daughter to even remember Grace’s birthday. Instead, Maggie is a complicated character in her own right, and we see her through Grace’s eyes. As frustrating and hurtful as Maggie is, Grace can’t help but love her and want to protect her because Maggie is her mom.
#2: expanding definition of grief. I loved the portrayal of Eva’s grieving process. She cries openly and honestly without shame (which is heartbreaking but also beautiful to read). At the same time, Eva opens up to Grace over jars of peanut butter, and the two girls are able to laugh together despite what they’re both going through. Grief isn’t just the literal loss of a person close to you, though; in this story, grief is what Grace feels about the life she’s been living with her mother, who’s hardly there at all. Grief is what Maggie herself is continuing to go through after losing her husband 15 years previously. Grief is complex and heartbreaking—and it’s not the same between different characters either.
#3: honest portrayal of bisexuality. This is why I picked up the book: because it’s one of the few books with a bisexual protagonist in the YA market. I can’t express how amazing it is to finally see that part of myself reflected on the page of a book. It gives me so much hope that this will be the kind of book teens now will pick up, the kind of book I didn’t have when I was in high school (or maybe I would’ve realized I was bisexual before age 22). It’s incredibly refreshing that, as Grace opens up about her sexuality to various characters, the story is completely free of biphobic stereotypes. Not a single person implies that she’s promiscuous/unfaithful, or that she’s just afraid to be gay. Not a single person asks Grace to “prove” her attraction to more than one gender. They just accept her and it’s incredible.
#4: the purest f/f romance ever. I love the development of the relationship between Grace and Eva, the way they’re both emotionally there for each other at various points, but also the way they joke with each other over jars of peanut butter. (On a less serious note, it’s super refreshing to see my eating-peanut-butter-out-of-the-jar-in-crisis self reflected in this story.) While this book is definitely a contemporary romance, it’s nice to see a romance where the girls’ emotional problems inform their relationship. As much as they both help each other escape their motherless status, they also help each other deal with problems. They’re just so freaking adorable and pure.
This is a wonderful book that I’m sure is really going to mean something to teens growing up now, especially my little bi babies. I’m grateful this book is out there, even though I wish I’d been able to read it 10 years ago. Every single issue and character are portrayed with love, honesty, complications, and honest-to-god grace (pun intended). If all these reasons aren’t enough, take it from this reviewer, who stated this is the first book she read that truly represented herself as a biracial girl. All that being said, this is certainly not a light read. It’s not a feel-good, fluffy romance, and readers should be prepared for the content and the emotions it might bring up for them.
As always, these are my opinions, but I’d love to hear what you think! Have you read How to Make a Wish or is it on your TBR? Let’s talk/flail in the comments!