Dreamer, Wisher, Liar by the author of the Just Grace series, Cherise Mericle Harper,(2014, 348 pages), is a sweet, fresh story about keeping old friends, and making new ones. I love the provocative title, although I’m not sure it totally matches the content of the book.
Summary from Goodreads:
When her best friend is moving away and her mom has arranged for some strange little girl to come and stay with them, Ash—who is petrified of change and new people—is expecting the worst summer of her life. Then seven-year-old Claire shows up. Armed with a love of thrift-store clothes and an altogether too-sunny disposition, Claire proceeds to turn Ash’s carefully constructed life upside down.
While every part of Ash’s life seems to be disrupted, she must protect a carefully hidden secret: She has discovered a magical jar in her basement. It’s a wish jar, full of someone’s old wishes—and it has the power to send her back in time and provide a window into another friendship between two girls. Discovering her own connection to the girls’ story shows Ash that her life is full of surprises and friends she never saw coming.
This is a fun book, easy to whip through. It is not an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story. The time travel Ash does is more as an observer. I kind of wished she could interact with people in the past more. However this level of interaction with the past was a refreshing change from all the books I’ve read lately in which the protagonist has to go back in time and be spectacularly brave and smart in order to SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD. There were a lot of clever connections in the plot, with things coming together in the end in a satisfying way.
Although it is light book with a lot of humorous moments, some serious issues are raised, and I thought dealt with in a way that is just right for the target age group. This book reminds us that small kindnesses are big. Ash suffers from prosopagnosia, or “face-blindness”. I’m not sure this malady was represented in the story 100% accurately but that’s just fine; it’s a story. In any case it is not a very important part of the plot. I would like to think boys could enjoy any well-written story, but alas, I think I think wrong(ly). 🙂 This plot features characters, conversations, and activities more appealing to girls.
The book lover in me responded to this paragraph:
I wasn’t sad to leave Mom and Dad; I wanted to go upstairs. There was something up there I’d been saving, just for tonight. It was PJ Walker’s new book. It was under my mattress, somewhere in the middle of the bed. I’d done that on purpose, so I wouldn’t cheat and start reading it early. PJ walker was my favorite author… I couldn’t wait to start this new one. I had it all planned out–one chapter a night, no matter what. It was like being on a diet, but with a book.
I especially love stories in which written media such as letters, notebooks, emails, etc…, are critical to the plot, and this book has this in spades. Girls who enjoyed The Magic Half by Annie Barrows (my review) are bound to like this book, as the tone and themes are similar.
For a bunch of super middle grade book reviews, see Shannon Messenger’s blog.
For an account of someone actually living with prosopagnosia, check out Heather Sellars’ memoir, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know.