Madison, Nevada is a dusty, rundown town in the middle of the desert. It’s the sort of place you pass through on your way to something else. And the locals like it that way. They don’t want folks to linger.
That’s because Madison is hiding a secret. While it seems like a dump on the surface, they are hiding magic. A wish-granting cave. Any time a resident of Madison turns 18, he or she goes to the cave and makes a wish. And that wish always comes true.
Eldon Wilkes is looking forward to his wishing day like someone would “look forward” to an invasive medical procedure. He’s seen how wishes have turned out for others. His parents’ marriage is strained to put it mildly. His sister’s condition is because of a wish. People are trapped in Madison because of wishing. Eldon’s feeling the pressure to make a wish to “fix” his family, but he knows no wish could fix what’s really wrong. But the clock is ticking. Eldon HAS to decide what he’s going to wish for.
Wow. This book has really forced me to think. What impact did wishing have on the town and people of Madison? What would I have wished for? Would I have done something different in Eldon’s place? Eldon’s conversation with Othello Dewitt was the most thought provoking part of all. It’s the sort of passage you would go back to and read through again.
Eldon is an interesting character. I can’t say that I liked Eldon, but I was captivated by him and by his dilemma. He’s complicated. His whole family is grieving while he is trying to make this huge decision. He’s feeling pressure from all sides. While a guaranteed wish sounds like an awesome thing, Eldon shows that there’s a dark side.
It’s easy to see the wish pieces of this story from the perspective of the decisions teens are making as they anticipate graduation and their future. I love that this book really made me think – even after the reading was done. I would like to read this with some high school juniors and seniors and talk about the parallels with the decisions they are trying to make. This would make a great book for group discussion. (Language)
Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for an electronic advanced reader copy of this for review purposes in exchange for an honest review.