Better To Wish is the latest book in a new series from author Ann M. Martin. Most young women will remember Ann M. Martin as the author of the famous 90s book series, The Babysitter's Club. When, I first started reading this book, I really had no idea what to expect and I didn't know what it was about. Both on Netgalley, where I requested the ARC, and Goodreads there was a one or two line description which really told nothing about the story. But, the book was from Ann M. Martin and nostalgia for The Babysitter's Club wouldn't let me not request this book.
This book follows the life of Abigail Cora Nichols, at the time we enter the book she's 8-years-old and living in a small cottage near the Maine coastline. We know her mother has lost two babies and Abby and her sister, Rose, are the only of the four to have survived. As the book moves along, her mother's depression basically becomes debilitating. We know her dad, Luther, has a horrible temper and cares a lot about keeping up appearances. To add some spice to the list of his negative attributes, he is also very prejudiced. He does not like Catholics, Jews, French Canadians, or anyone else who isn't a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP). Even though the book is set during The Great Depression, it also turns out that he does not like "lazy people" who do not work... even if there's no work to be had.
Just to stop there, you're probably thinking "wow, that's a lot of heavy stuff." Let me just say, it gets worse. I don't want to spoil it, but in every chapter there seems to be some grim event. The book overall is very sad, but I think it's very true to life. Especially for that era. The book follows Abby from the time she's eight until she graduates from high school and a bit beyond that. So, there's plenty of room for terrible things to happen.
At first, I wanted to say that this book isn't really the kind of book that a child should read. According to Amazon, the book is for ages eight-and-up. Thinking of a child reading about depression, grief, prejudice, and some other sad stuff just didn't seem appropriate. But, then I thought children are way too sheltered nowadays. Everything is always rainbows and sunshine and even though this book has its difficult topics, it's also uplifting. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think it would be good for kids to read this. Adults too.
I so loved this book. I connected with it. I loved Abigail, the main character. I cannot wait for the next one to find out what happens after the cliffhanger at the end. Abigail is a great role model for young girls. She is so intelligent and insightful. No matter what happens, she is never down on herself, nor does she mope and whine. We could all learn a lesson from Abby. That's why I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars, the highest honor.
In my last review of a children's book, Secondhand Horses, I spoke about how a great children's book will connect with readers of all ages. This is one of those books. Do yourself a favor and read it. I did not expect to enjoy a book for children as much as I did this one. I'm very eager to see how this unique series will play out.
I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) courtesy of Netgalley and Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.