For 17-year-old Eldon, his windblown hometown in the Mojave Desert is “the kind of place you wanna leave as quick as you can.” What it isn’t, however, is ordinary: the town’s residents are able to make a wish on their 18th birthday, which comes true. Eldon has 25 days to figure out what matters most to him, and everyone has an opinion (his mother pressures him to wish for the money they desperately need to save his sister, who is on life support). Eldon decides to research past wishes and their outcomes; third-person interludes appear between Eldon’s first-person chapters, detailing various citizens’ wishes. He discovers that most wishes have made the wishers’ lives worse, and that a perfect wish may not exist. The countdown structure creates a natural hook, and Sedoti (The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett) makes good use of her what-if premise to give readers much to consider. She successfully captures the feelings of uncertainty that come with nascent adulthood, the desire to leave home, and waiting for one’s life to begin. Ages 14–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Jan.)
"Heartbreaking, other times hilarious, but always thought-provoking. An unexpectedly affecting book that will have readers pondering what they would wish for if given the chance." - Booklist
"Poignant... Will inspire readers to explore the question: if you could have one wish, what would it be" - Kirkus
"An engrossing read, fantastical and believable at the same time." - Horn Book Magazine
"The plot itself transcends Eldon's quest for a wish and becomes a study of human nature. This is a good story that includes a bit of romance, sports, friendship, family issues, and coming of age. A thoroughly engaging choice for readers of realistic fiction and magical realism." - School Library Journal
"Depending on the reader, this novel offers different levels of intensity, starting with the everyday sort of teen troubles, progressing to difficult family dynamics, and reaching up to the ethical dilemmas wishing can create-all while being easy to read and hard to put down." - VOYA Magazine, Perfect Ten
"The book provides an interesting and original premise that will open up some great discussion about what students might wish for and what the ramifications of those wishes might be." - School Library Connection
"The countdown structure creates a natural hook, and Sedoti (The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett) makes good use of her what-if premise to give readers much to consider. She successfully captures the feelings of uncertainty that come with nascent adulthood, the desire to leave home, and waiting for one's life to begin." - Publishers Weekly
"Chelsea Sedoti (The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett) masterfully crafts a tale that draws together the stories of an entire town's residents while focusing on Eldon and his friends. Through Eldon's wrenching struggles, we see how the possibility of getting what you think you want is fraught with complications. Despite the magical elements, Eldon's actions and longings ring true, reminding us that every day serves up life-altering choices, both large and small.
" - BookPage
"The premise makes for a fascinating set of what-ifs that aren't resolved by Eldon's final decision; readers will want to consider further the larger questions raised here about the role risk, selfishness, free will, uncertain outcomes, and unintended consequences play in happiness.
" - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gr 8 Up—The small town of Madison, NV has a secret. On everyone's 18th birthday, they gets to make a wish, a wish that always comes true—for better or for worse. Eldon's birthday is in 25 days, and he has no idea what to wish. His mother is pressuring him to make a wish that would help his sister who remains comatose after being hit by a car. Deep down, he would like to get his ex-girlfriend who now dates his ex-friend back. Along with the other two Madison teens with upcoming birthdays, Eldon must attend classes before their wishday birthday, and the teacher suggests to Eldon that he might want to research what others have wished for and how the wish impacted their lives. Eldon and his best friend Merrell and classmate Norie begin to interview people in the town but the interviews do not make his decision any easier. The picture of small-town life and the cast of characters—some well-rounded but others rather stereotypical—add flavor to Eldon's quest. Eldon himself, a flawed but sincere character, deals not only with worry about the consequences of what he might wish for, but with the unhappiness of his parents, the anger resulting from his sister's accident, and the realization that having your greatest wish come true can be a double-edged sword. The plot itself transcends Eldon's quest for a wish and becomes a study of human nature. This is a good story that includes a bit of romance, sports, friendship, family issues, and coming of age. VERDICT A thoroughly engaging choice for readers of realistic fiction and magical realism.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas, Denton
To the casual passer-by, Madison, Nevada, is an ordinary, quiet town in the middle of the Mojave Desert.But a closer look reveals that Madison is anything but ordinary. This dusty town on state Route 375 has a secret: every resident gets a wish on their 18th birthday—wishes that always come true. Many people wish for money, some wish for popularity, and others wish for good looks. However, most people, as 17-year-old Eldon Wilkes discovers, regret their wishes: it didn't occur to his mother that she might one day fall out of love with Eldon's father, who she wished would love her forever; there's the man who wished away his desires for other men but didn't realize wishing away the gay wouldn't make him straight; and there's the lonely man who accidentally wished for space and got exactly that. Eldon has less than a month to decide on his wish. Like everyone else, he gets one shot and will have to live with the rewards—or the consequences—for the rest of his life. Eldon's first-person narration is interspersed with third-person accounts of various townspeople's wishes, vignettes that offer poignant glimpses into the lives of those around Eldon and that shed light on Eldon's own. Most of Madison's residents are assumed white, but Eldon's best friend has a Spanish surname.Will inspire readers to explore the question: if you could have one wish, what would it be? (Fantasy. 14-18)