Pink cakes, pink ponies and gumballs

You Wish by Mandy HubbardYou Wish by Mandy Hubbard
Publisher: Razorbill
Number of pages: 272
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

What if all your wishes really came true?

Kayla McHenry’s sweet sixteen sucks! Her dad left, her grades dropped, and her BFF is dating the boy Kayla’s secretly loved for years. Blowing out her candles, Kayla thinks: I wish my birthday wishes actually
came true. Because they never freakin’ do.

Kayla wakes the next day to a life-sized, bright pink My Little Pony outside her window. Then a year’s supply of gumballs arrives. A boy named Ken with a disturbing resemblance to the doll of the same name stalks her. As the ghosts of Kayla’s wishes-past appear, they take her on a wild ride . . . but they MUST STOP. Because when she was fifteen? She wished Ben Mackenzie would kiss her. And Ben is her best friend’s boyfriend.

* * *

Totally honest moment: I know I said I hardly buy books because of their cover, but the main reason why I wanted to have this book when I saw it is because of the pink. This is probably the brightest book in my shelf right now, and I’m pretty sure my guy friends would not get this book because of that cover (unless you believe that real men wear…er, read pink-covered books?). But I just love it. The pink, the cupcake, the pony — it’s like a little girl’s dream birthday cake on a book! :)

But Kayla McHenry, You Wish‘s protagonist hated the pink. She hated everything during her sixteenth birthday party where her mom used it more as an event to market herself as an event organizer for the sweet sixteen birthday market, and her best friend ditched her for a date with her boyfriend, who incidentally, Kayla has been in love with for the past three years. (Okay that sentence was mouthful) It was a truly sucky birthday, and I couldn’t blame Kayla for acting that way, and wishing that wish that changed everything.

And wishes. I’ve written about how I used to make wishes with my review of Jackson Pearce’s As You Wish, but Mandy Hubbard’s newest novel literally takes the cake at wish fulfillment. You Wish is a sweet, sort of coming of age story with lots of fun, toys and lessons learned for girls who are growing up. The entire story kind of reminds me of 13 Going on 30, but perhaps it may just be because of the pink and yes, the wish. For the next two weeks after Kayla’s disaster of a sixteenth birthday, one wish from her past birthdays come true, with hilarious results. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if Kayla wished for mere toys as she grew up (like what kids would wish for birthday gifts or Christmas gifts at, but she had to wish for more outrageous things. A real pink My Little Pony? Raggedy Ann Doll coming to life? A shower of gumballs? Become a mermaid? Have bigger breasts? Practically everything that a little girl and a teenager would wish for as she grows old came true for Kayla, and it wasn’t fun at all. Not to mention that Kayla’s best friend is slowly drifting apart from her, and she feels more and more attracted to Ben…Kayla had to find a way to undo the wish, and fast, before her last wish for Ben to kiss her comes true.

I haven’t been reading much contemporary YA lately because I feel like almost everything has been overdone. Come to think of it, I think this may pass as speculative fiction given the magical elements, so yeah, I guess I still stayed away from them! But I digress. I love how the author tackled the story without magic overpowering everything. True, having all those wishes coming true at that extent is unbelievable, but at some point in the story, I started to believe that those things were actually happening to Kayla. The magic wasn’t a way to escape, too, but to show Kayla how much she’s changed, and how much things are changing around her. However, these wishes also taught her that she also had the power to change herself and somehow effect the same change around her if she really wanted it.

Kayla’s character development was painful to read for me, because I know how it feels like to “lose” a good friend because she suddenly had a boyfriend. I wasn’t in love with her boyfriend, mind you, but she was so in love with him that our friendship was…well, discarded. Thinking about it still kind of stings until now, and unlike Kayla, I haven’t had the chance to repair that discarded friendship because the other party doesn’t seem to want to (or maybe she’s kind of oblivious). I wanted to reach inside the book and comfort Kayla in her lonely moments, but I was glad at how the author handled that in the story, by not pointing the blame at a single person. Friendship issues are never uncomplicated, because as the saying says it takes two to tango. Kayla and Nicole’s friendship in the book was at the stage where they could choose to grow in it or just leave it, and Ms. Hubbard resolved it beautifully.

As for the romance aspect, I liked it. Ben wasn’t my type of guy, but I thought his chemistry with Kayla felt real. It didn’t make me all tingly all over, but it was a pretty cute high school romance. :)

I’d totally recommend Mandy Hubbard’s You Wish to all girls and girls at heart (and yes, even boys, too, if they can stomach the pink!). You Wish is a thoughtful novel about friendship, family, body issues, conformity, clean slates, and yes, wishes. Be careful what you wish for, because you never know when another wish could make them come true! :)

Rating: [rating=4]

My copy: paperback, from Fully Booked

Cover & Blurb: Goodreads

Sibling love and a little magic

Tall Story by Candy GourlayTall Story by Candy Gourlay
Cacho Publishing House, 233 pages

Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long lost half brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London, where he belongs. Then Andi’s biggest wish comes true and she’s minutes away from becoming someone’s little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he’ll turn out to be tall and just as mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he’s tall all right. But he’s not just tall …he’s a GIANT. In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

My brother doesn’t know this, but I consider him to be one of my best friends. He’s four years older than me, and like every other sibling pair, we used to have our share of screaming matches when we were kids. We only started having serious conversations as we grew up, thanks to the long rides from school to our house during college, when he’d pick me up. My relationship with him gave me a soft spot for stories about brothers and sisters, so it was no surprise that I couldn’t wait to read the recently released Tall Story by Candy Gourlay.

Tall Story chronicles the tale of half-siblings Bernardo and Andi, from the day they meet for the first time. Bernardo grew up in the Philippines under the care of his aunt and uncle, after his mom, a nurse, relocated to the United Kingdom to work. Bernardo grew up waiting for his papers to get approved by UK Immigration, so that he could live in London with his family. Andi is a small girl who loves basketball and barely knows her older brother, save for a few letters and phone calls. All that Andi knows is that her brother is tall, as her mom often stresses, and she wants him in London so they can play basketball together–but when he finally arrives, Andi is in for a shock. Bernardo is not just tall–he’s an eight-foot giant! As Bernardo and Andi get to know each other, Andi is pulled into Bernardo’s “magical” world and Bernardo learns how it feels to have a family.

If I could use one word to describe this novel, it would be “heartwarming.” I was thoroughly charmed by the entire book, and not just because it’s a brother-sister story. I knew I’d like Andi from her first line: Rush hour. So many armpits, so little deodorant. What Andi lacks in height, she makes up with ferocity and her can’t-miss basketball skills. Bernardo, on the other hand, is literally a gentle giant – he’s huge but not aggressive, sometimes rash and forgetful, but always bearing good intentions.  Bernardo and Andi’s voices are distinct, and they play very well off each other, giving readers a chance to understand and sympathize with both points of view. I ached for the two main characters to be friends, and rejoiced when they grew closer as the book went on. Click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating: [rating=4]

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 60 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 9 out of 20 for Project 20:10

My copy: Philippine edition paperback, Php 275 from Powerbooks

Cover image: Original photo of actual book I own
Blurb: Goodreads