Don't You Wish

Don't You Wish

3.2 7
by Roxanne St. Claire

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Alternate universes exist! Perfect for moviegoers who loved 17 Again, Sliding Doors, and The Family Man, as well as the novel Before I Fall.

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe,

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Alternate universes exist! Perfect for moviegoers who loved 17 Again, Sliding Doors, and The Family Man, as well as the novel Before I Fall.

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school. 

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.

But on the insde, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn't as simple as you think.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Annie Nutter is a nobody without a date for homecoming and only one real friend. Her family is basically happy but her dad is a crazy inventor who has a bit of a hoarding tendency and her mom, inspired by an Architectural Digest spread about a former boyfriend, is wishing for a better life. Annie's dad has invented a mirror that lets you see the "perfect" you and during a late night lightning storm a freak blast of electricity sends Annie to a parallel universe. She wakes up as Ayla Monroe, daughter of her mother and the old boyfriend, tycoon Jim, living in Miami in his amazing house, and the queen bee of her school. But while things on the surface seem better (she's rich, beautiful, popular) her friends aren't to be trusted, she's about to lose her V Card to a boy she doesn't even like and her family is completely dysfunctional. Enter Charlie, the nerd boy who somehow captures her interest, and as life as Ayla continues, shakes things up even more. Annie/Ayla's voice is authentic and her emotions and concerns are realistic despite the slightly unbelievable premise. There are a few older themes to be aware of (sex, drugs, underage drinking, stealing) but most readers should be fine with this fun, It's a Wonderful Life-ish story of seeing how the other half live and realizing that the grass isn't always greener. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
From the Publisher
VOYA, June 2012:
"A charming tale that will especially appeal to kids who feel themselves to be Invisible, tormented, and in need of empowerment skills."
VOYA - Beth Andersen
"Careful what you wish for" is brought to life in this parallel universe story. Annie Nutter is an Invisible — plain, brainy, bullied. Her family is struggling economically. Her real estate agent mom has had no sales and her eccentric dad spends precious resources on improbable inventions. Annie's mother has a mini-meltdown and wishes aloud that she had married her first love, the billionaire cosmetic surgeon to the stars, Jim Monroe. During a lightning storm, Annie, who has been standing in front of her dad's latest magical mirror invention, is zapped into the life of Monroe's gorgeous, snooty daughter, Ayla. Just one hiccup—Annie is still Annie inside. As she adjusts to living in ridiculous luxury and being one of the It girls at school, she baffles the Monroes (in this life, her mom is miserably married to Dr. Monroe, who is a cheating cad) and her cruel posse with her considerate ways and discomfort with denigrating the Invisibles at her new school. She is put off by her hunky boyfriend and his caveman needs, and instead is drawn to outcast Charlie who shoulders his home-based burdens with graceful maturity, caring for his wheelchair-bound twin sister and mother. The allure of the rich-but-nasty life wears thin. Ayla/Annie is desperate to get back to her old life which includes turning back the clock and undoing the accident that put Charlie's sister in the chair. A charming tale that will especially appeal to kids who feel themselves to be Invisible, tormented, and in need of empowerment skills. Reviewer: Beth Andersen
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Awkward Annie Nutter is tormented by the rich, popular kids whom she both envies and reviles at Pittsburgh's South Hills High. Her home life isn't any better: her brother is annoying, her father is a failed inventor, and her realtor mother has just discovered that the med student she could have married is now a billionaire in Miami. One stormy night, when trying out her dad's latest invention, Annie gets zapped into an alternate universe in which her mother is married to the former med student and she's Ayla Monroe, the rich, beautiful queen bee of a ritzy private school. At first she enjoys the perks of her status, but eventually she realizes that her so-called friends are shallow, she feels nothing for her jerky boyfriend, her new dad is a womanizer, and her mom is miserable. In a satisfying feel-good twist, the school's brilliant but bullied scholarship student helps her get back to her old world as they fall in love. There is plenty here that readers will find compelling. Unfortunately, cartoonish stereotypes of socioeconomic groups (rich people are horrible; poor people have hearts of gold); a plot that moves forward largely by way of lucky coincidences; and some problematic treatment of race (Ayla's ethnically ambiguous best friend is ridiculously described as "a little bit of everything-Asian, Hispanic, black, white, with some island flair thrown in for added spice.") make this novel more of a light read than the deeper exploration of identity, family relationships, and society it strives to be.—Riva Pollard, American Indian Public Charter School, Oakland, CA
Kirkus Reviews
An unsatisfying blend of science fiction and Gossip Girl marks St. Claire's young adult debut. Annie Nutter is so invisible no one notices or cares when their backpacks hit her in the face as they climb on the school bus. After her mother reveals that Annie's father could have been Jim Monroe, the billionaire owner of a chain of plastic-surgery clinics, Annie wonders if she'd trade her own father, an inventor with wacky ideas, for a different life. Predictably, one of her father's inventions sends Annie into another universe. Now Annie Nutter is Ayla Monroe: rich, beautiful and A-list. Ayla's friends are shallow shoplifters, and her hot boyfriend just wants sex; Jim Monroe is a mustache-twirling villain. Then Annie falls for Charlie Zelinsky, a genius who was homeless for a short time. The author tries to ground the creaky body-swap concept in real science: When Charlie learns and accepts Annie's story, he implausibly uses physics and long explanations to replicate her father's invention. Of course, this makes Annie question whether she should stay or go. Heavy-handed exposition, flat characters and trite dialogue don't elevate this outing past forgettable. (Science fiction/chick-lit. 14-17)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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Chapter One

Some days it seems like half the backpacks of South Hills High whack me in the head on their way to the back of the bus. And today, the pain is epic because I had my braces tightened this morning. Each thud shakes my tender teeth, reminding me that I am the loser who sits in the front row of the bus, head positioned exactly at the point where kids step on and turn into the aisle.

Samantha Janiskowsky. Thunk. Ouch.

Miranda Beck. Thunk. Ouch.

Kyle Rotrosen. Thunk.


Now, this last pain is not for the aching gums. This pain is inflicted by Lizzie Kauffman, squeezing my hand in a death grip. That can mean only one thing.

Sure enough, sandy hair slowly rises from behind the metal plate between us and the bus steps. Emerging like a god from the underworld, Shane Matthews climbs onto the bus, his adorable smile directed at someone behind and beneath him.

Of course, almost the entire world population is beneath Shane.

“You got that right, babe. Feast your eyes.” He wiggles his butt, which only makes Lizzie crunch my knuckles harder. It doesn’t matter. All pain is numbed by the sight of him, the object of our every fantasy, the subject of our every sleepover, the man candy we can only dream of tasting in this lifetime.

Shane Matthews is about to clock me in the head, and all I can do is wait in breathless anticipation.

Next to me, Lizzie mutters, “Annie, don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, don’t look.” She shifts her eyes as far to the side as they can go without actually getting stuck in her head. I have no such restraint.

I look.

And get a navy blue Adidas Velocity II backpack full of history and science textbooks right in the face.

Yeah, we Googled his backpack brand. We’re that pathetic. I resist the urge to touch my cheek, the closest I’ve ever gotten to actual contact with Shane Matthews.

Of course, he doesn’t even look to see who he’s hit. Because to him, I am invisible. Annie Nutter—if he even knows my name, which I sincerely doubt—is simply one of the extras to fill the halls of South Hills High, so low on the social ladder that our only job is to admire the beauty, perfection, and popularity of stars like Shane.

And admire we do.

A distinctive, throaty (and totally fake) laugh floats up from the sidewalk. Lizzie and I share a disgusted look seconds prior to the appearance of silky platinum hair, gloriously tanned skin—tanned, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mind you—and a cheerleader’s smile that bares a row of blinding white Chiclet-like teeth.

Of course Courtney Nicholas is smiling. Who wouldn’t, if you had her life?

“Nickel-ass,” Lizzie hisses. “Of course he’s flirting with her.”

Courtney doesn’t carry a backpack—she probably has Blonde Mafia handmaidens who do that for her—but her Coach handbag slugs me as she saunters by. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she did that on purpose.

But I do know better; I’m not even a blip on Courtney’s radar.

“Nice move, Court,” a girl behind her says, snickering.

“Oh, who did I hit?” she calls over her shoulder.

“Nobody,” the girl says without so much as a sideways glance at my face. “Just move it so we can sit with Shane.”

Nobody. My face burns, and not from the brush with either the forty-four-dollar Adidas Velocity II or whatever designer bags are going for these days. I certainly wouldn’t know, since they don’t sell them at Tar—ghetto.

“Don’t sweat it,” Lizzie whispers, pulling me to her so I avoid the final assault of the backpack brigade. “It’s November. Half these kids’ll have licenses and cars by the middle of the year, and we’ll be the only dweeb juniors on the bus. We’ll, like, own this puppy.” She pats the ripped leather of our seat and raises her voice. “Right, Geraldine?”

The bus driver shifts in her seat to set her meaty face in a frown, but there is a light in her eyes that she saves just for us. Geraldine, whose gravelly baritone and hairy arms make us certain she was a man at some point in her not-so-recent past, has a soft spot for us nobodies. Best of all, she takes absolutely no shit from the posse of populars in the back of the bus.

We love that about her. Him. Geraldine.

“Always changes when they pass driver’s ed,” Geraldine growls as she closes the doors. “Just you wait.”

“So you wanna come over and hang?” Lizzie asks me as the bus rolls over the speed bumps—another slam to my teeth—and pulls out of the school lot. “I don’t have my flute lesson until four-thirty.”

“Can’t. I’m going to beg Geraldine to let me off at Walmart.” I raise my voice so the driver hears me. “To meet my mom for a quick shop.”

Lizzie stares at me. “You’re going to homecoming.”

“What? How did you get that out of me meeting my mom at Walmart?”

“I figure you’re getting a dress and holding out on me.”

I snort. “At Walmart? Jeez, Zie, I know the real estate market is sucky and my mom hasn’t sold a house in two months and my dad barely makes minimum wage at RadioShack, but even we Nutters have some standards.”

“Puh-lease.” She gives an apologetic wave. “As if my mom isn’t always broke.” She waits a beat, searching my face. “But you don’t have a date for homecoming, right?”

As if. “You got nothin’ to worry about, girlfriend. It’s you, me, and the entire season of Degrassi come Saturday night.” I give her a reassuring pat because she truly looks worried. “Trust me, we’re just going to Walmart because my dad needs us to pick up some . . .” Junk. “Things.”

Lizzie crosses her eyes. “Your dad needs more things like I need more freckles.”

My heart squeezes a little, but this is Lizzie, who knows my every secret. Even how embarrassing the mess at home is getting to be.

“He’s working on an amazing new invention,” I say, the need to defend whacktastic Mel Nutter rising up in me.

“Really? What could possibly top the button you could press on the toilet-paper thingie so that you automatically get the exact same amount of sheets every time?”

“The Rip-Off?” I sigh with a mix of amusement and shame. Really, mostly amusement over that one. “Of course he didn’t like my idea for a name.”

“Even though it was pure genius,” she adds, ever the supportive friend. “The name and the idea.”

“Sadly, no one in the world wanted the Rip-Off. But this one? He’s being secretive about it, so it might be good.”

“Whatever happened to last summer’s Flip-Flop Beach Buddy?” she asks.

“Emphasis on flop,” I tell her, the memory still vivid: a double beach towel with corner holder-downers disguised as flip-flops to keep it in the sand. “Well, nobody wanted that, either, because it really wasn’t much different from a blanket held down by, well, flip-flops. Plus . . .” I angle my head toward the window. “There’s a serious beach shortage in Pittsburgh.”

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
VOYA, June 2012:
"A charming tale that will especially appeal to kids who feel themselves to be Invisible, tormented, and in need of empowerment skills."

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