I always appreciate the opportunity to read Kate Messner’s books, and they have long been favorites to share with a wide age-range of students.
Messner features action (Capture the Flag, Eye of the Storm) for middle grade youngsters, and great books for younger readers too (the Marty McGuire and Ranger in Time series), and many more than I have mentioned here.
One of the things she has always done really well is to reach my inner kid. This is particularly true with her latest book, The Seventh Wish. I read an advanced reader’s copy from Netgalley. We had a ton going on at home when I finished, and though I loved it, I realized that I needed to let it sit for a time. I’m so glad I did, because it was only by doing so that I realized the impact this story truly had on me.
In Charlie, Kate Messner captured me, myself, at twelve. Four and a half decades have passed since I was That Kid feeling the pain of sacrifice. I am the youngest of five children and it’s safe to say that when we were growing up, my siblings had their problems. None was ever in serious trouble with the law. None faced addiction to drugs, as Charlie’s sister does in this story. Still, my parents spent considerable time and energy dealing with their needs, along with the needs of all the stray college students (one of whom DID have a drug problem) and others we hosted in our home in the early 70s.
I had dreams and hopes. And I was a quiet, undemanding, well-behaved kid who missed out on some things I really wanted to do. I felt Charlie’s sense of injustice deeply when her goals and plans were set aside because someone else needed parenting more. As I read these pages, She was Me.
This is one of Messner’s real gifts to young readers (and to 56-year-old Me): she knows her way around feelings and emotions, drawing them so true to real life that one can’t help but experience them on a personal level.
This, to me, is what great writing does. It takes us both inside and outside ourselves.
Here is my Goodreads review, written right after I finished reading: This story is so delicately told, and its characters so well-formed as just real people for middle grade readers! Every young person should have the opportunity to read this book. Beautiful.