Last year, I had completely fallen in love with Ashley Herring Blake’s debut novel, Suffer Love, and this year, I’ve fallen in love again with her second novel, How to Make a Wish.
This is probably one of the most beautiful contemporaries that I’ve read this year, in terms of characters, plot development, and the lovely writing that really stands out. It has such a gripping and enjoyable story line, and it is incredibly character driven, which makes me love it even more.
Grace has spent years following her mother as she moved them from one home to the next – often staying motels when one of her mother’s toxic relationships ended up failing and they were forced to move on. Her mother, who has had nothing but grief and unhappiness since Grace’s father died years ago, has tried to live her life in ways that make her happy – drinking, partying, going to clubs, and not really being the best mom that she can be. So when she picks Grace up after a trip, and tells her that they were not going back to their home, but to the home of her newest boyfriend, Grace isn’t surprised. When she finds out that her mother’s boyfriend is the new lighthouse keeper and her new home will be right at the lighthouse, it doesn’t make much difference, but when she realizes that her new boyfriend’s son, Jay, is her ex-boyfriend, she is livid. She doesn’t understand how her mother could do this to her – after all, this is the boy that took their private text messages and posted them on Tumblr, completely humiliating Grace.
Trying to make the best of things, Grace finds herself hiding from Jay and counting the days until this relationship doesn’t work and she and her mother can leave.
And then Grace meets Eva.
Eva has had a rough time with things – she never knew her father and her mother just died, leaving her alone, in the care of Grace’s best friend and his mother. From the moment she meets Eva on the beach, Grace finds herself loving being in her company and talking with her.
As time goes on, and Eva tells Grace that she likes girls during a late night conversation while running away from a dog, Grace isn’t sure what to do with that information. She knows that she has feelings for Eva, and she wonders if Eva feels the same.
“It doesn’t really matter who we are during the day. These nights – they’re ours. We’re not Grace Glasser or Eva Brighton. Just Grace and Eva. Two girls who need to feel young and free, need to feel like girls. Need to scream from the top of a lighthouse and eat peanut butter out of a jar and swear and accidentally brush up against each other and giggle about it.”
The more time they spend together, the more the two of them start to explore their feelings for one another, and the more Grace realizes that she wants more than friendship. But she also wants to Eva to stay away from her mother, who leaves nothing but destruction and pain behind her, and who seems to focus more on Eva than Grace.
As Grace struggles to get past this feeling, as well as keep practicing piano to make it to her audition for a music school, she starts to wonder if bringing Eva into her world was the best choice.
This was such a beautiful story about self-discovery and falling in love that is absolutely perfect for the start of summer (or any time throughout the year, honestly!). It was so heartwarming and has instantly become a favorite.
I love books with characters who are bisexual; I feel that there aren’t enough of them out there. It’s also wonderful to see characters who are confident with their sexuality and aren’t afraid to go after what they want. Grace and Eva knew what they wanted, and such a lovely romance blooms between the two of them. The moments that they share on top of the lighthouse, just laughing and talking, are the kinds that really add depth and emotion into the book.
Both Eva and Grace are wonderful characters, full of personality and stories that shape them into who they are.
How to Make a Wish is the kind of novel that I wish I had been able to read as a teenager. I feel like it would have helped me understand some things about myself a lot sooner and I might not have been so closed about who knew. Reading about bisexual main characters in young adult novels today is amazing, because it’s always nice to see books that are positive and helpful so that those reading them feel they are able to connect to the characters. There seem to be a lot of books that have main characters who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, yes, but a small number of those have bisexual characters. I’m thrilled to see how this is changing!
This is such a beautiful story and one that really needs to make it into the hands of everyone who loves a story about growing up, finding out who you are, and falling in love.
Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Mas-ter’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.
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