Just One Wish by Janette Rallison, released in 2009
Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.
But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?
I’m a major fan of books that make me laugh but also cry, and Rallison, you did that! Just One Wish is not a complicated book, there are no real plot twists and characters don’t have truly deep backstories. It’s a perfect vacation read, you know, the kind of book you choose when you have other things going on so you want something not too involved but still really dang good.
A brief summary: Annika’s six-year-old brother Jeremy has a tumour in his brain and in a week’s time, he’s going to have a surgery that will determine his fate. To give Jeremy hope, Annika tells him she has a magic genie who can grant him a wish. Her endgame? He wishes for something she can easily make happen (a toy he has been asking for nonstop), she makes it happen to prove this genie is legit, and then he wishes for the surgery to go well. Then, he will be positive and not dreading death as he has been. The plan goes awry instantly when Jeremy wishes for his TV idol, Robin Hood, to come pay a visit. Not going to stop Annika though! Just One Wish follows Annika as she treks down to the set of Teen Robin Hood (with bestie Madison) to convince Robin Hood actor Steve Raleigh to get his butt over to meet her bro.
That is the summary of the novel, and the story really doesn’t deviate from that plan. The main plot is really what drives this story – there aren’t that many side plots, and those that exist are so tiny they literally make up four or five pages. I’m not going to say that’s the end of the world, because I appreciate how the main plot is written, but I will say the side plots had real potential. The author could easily have added fifty to one hundred pages on this book without lessening its value. One side plot in particular: Steve’s distanced relationship with his parents. I won’t disclose why this is a thing (find out by reading the book!) but Rallison hints at the issue two times, then addresses the issue head on in about six pages?, then it’s considered resolved (as a plot thread). As a reader, I’m not *dissatisfied*, in the sense that there are no gaping plot holes, but I wouldn’t complain if more dimension was added to this aspect of the novel.
Shifting to the pros of this book? I can list them so fast. The humour is so crackling and on-point, you can’t read this book in public if you hate smiling when no one else knows the joke. Annika is a female protagonist who literally gives no shits about other’s expectations. Reading from her perspective honestly gave me a pure shot of confidence. Also, Rallison is such a creative author. I know I said the novel doesn’t deviate from the main plot – don’t assume that means Just One Wish is boring. Oh no. Annika is constantly devising schemes to get close to Steve and she has no limits. Expect not-prop snakes and hairnets. Oohh, the hairnets.
I’m going to give this book four and a half crowns, but officially y’all can look at it as five. The reason for it’s loss of half a crown is really going to be because the book feels like it got too condensed. This is too amazing to be only 264 pages! If there were just a few more pages, a few more paragraphs, dedicated to certain scenes, certain plotlines, this book would be a stunner. But don’t doubt me for a second, I recommend it. Anything with Rallison’s name on the cover, I will recommend.
Okay, now what should I read and review next week? Vote in the comments below from the following selections! And just as a note… I know quite a few people voted for Girl in the Blue Coat last week, so I’ll be sure to bring it back to the voting section soon!
(1) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson [YA]
“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.
(2) The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher [YA]
First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.
But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.
Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
(3) Abandon by Meg Cabot [Fantasy]
Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.
But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.
Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.
📷 = @shaniasquires