Title: What You Wish For
Author: Katherine Center
Publication Day: July 14th 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.
When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.
Booktimistic Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Joy was cumulative. It wasn’t about finding one big thing – but about collecting as many tiny pieces as you could.
Delightful, heartfelt and filled with joy and hope, What You Wish For by Katherine Center was exactly the kind of story I needed in my life right now. And since this was my first book by Center, I am already excited about all of those back titles that I now need to catch up on.
It is easy to understand why this author is so well loved. She writes simply, but beneath those simple sentences, much deeper meanings are hidden. She tackles extremely heavy topics with an ease and grace that resonates and makes the reader think. And alongside those profound life lessons, there is a light heartedness to her storytelling that just makes us readers feel good.
I am not happy because it comes easily to me. I bite and scratch and claw my way toward happiness everyday.
Life hasn’t been very kind to Samantha Casey, but she’s finally found her place in the sunny town of Galveston, Texas, and as an elementary school librarian she is trying to be as happy and contented as humanly possible. When the beloved school principal Max suddenly passes away, his replacement turns out to be Duncan Carpenter – Sam’s long time ago, unrequited crush. Now, Sam is both giddy and nervous at the prospect of seeing Duncan again. But after just a few days working with him, she is absolutely dumbstruck. Who is this rigid, unsmiling and unapproachable guy? The Duncan she fell in love with used to be one of the nicest and kindest person she knew. Where did he go? What happened? How can a person change so much in a matter of years? As the story unfolds, we gradually get all the answers.
I loved the characters in this story so much. From Max’s wise words to Babette’s calm demeanor, Alice’s nerdy jokes to little Clay’s trivia knowledge, the absolutely adorable Chuck Norris, and of course our main characters Sam and Duncan. There’s also the right amount of romance in the story that I savored. Some might say that the characters were a bit overblown, and you know what, maybe they were, but it was totally fine. I loved them in all their quirkiness. And there’s a beach scene towards the end that added so much to this book. Personally, I think that when heavier and more serious topics are dealt with plain simple words they are more impactful rather than when they are made an absolute big deal of. Really, I deeply admire Katherine Center’s emotional intelligence and her way of making her reader feel good.
I know all about darkness. That’s why I am so hell bent, every damn day, on looking for the light.
The underlying theme in this book is choosing joy, prioritizing happiness and opting to leave pain behind when doing that doesn’t even seem like an option. And it all comes down to having the courage to live joyfully and celebrate life despite all its sufferings and heartbreaks. All in all a wonderful story that I highly recommend.
But that’s the thing about joy. You don’t have to wait for it to happen. You can make it happen.
Disclaimer: An e-ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Note – The quotes are from an uncorrected proof and might change in the final copy.