Like many of us, I fell in love with Katherine Center’s writing last year. She has a fantastic way of making an evocative novel lots of fun to read. I admire her writing and her delightful characters. Naturally, What You Wish For was one of my most anticipated reads for 2020.
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.
I loved the slow burn relationship between Sam and Duncan in this story. They were full of angst from the get-go, thanks to the huge change Sam notices in Duncan, along with the added component of their past working relationship. The continued suspense of attempting to figure out what caused Duncan’s personality to do a 180 kept me eagerly turning the pages. I was exceptionally excited to see how the characters would fall together, and the post-surgery scene was to die for. I greatly appreciated the modern issues Katherine addressed in this story without being heavy-handed in politics. Instead of feeling burdened by the heavy topics, I felt hopeful and eager to live a more joyful lifestyle after I finished reading. I think authors have the ability to change the world for the better in that way, and Katherine Center certainly uses her talents in doing so.
“Life doesn’t ever give you what you want just the way you want it. Life doesn’t even make things easy. How dare you demand that happiness should be yours without any sacrifice — without any courage?”
As I was reading, I routinely forgot whose book I was reading, as strange as that may sound. I’m a big fan of another author, R.S. Grey, who frequently uses Texas locales as settings for her stories. The Galveston setting and angsty flirtation between the two main characters was reminiscent of her writing, which is certainly not a complaint by me. I loved getting lost on the island, easily picturing the beaches and town, having visited there last summer.
My only real issue with the story pertains to a few unbelievable moments. I struggled to see how certain scenes could happen in real life, which made the story, at times, feel cheesy.
Though What You Wish For didn’t hit as high of a mark as Center’s previous two books for me, it was still a worthwhile read. She has made a fan of me and I will eagerly read anything she releases in the future.
Rating: 4 stars