Dreamer, Wisher, Liar, by Clarise Mericle Harper (Balzer + Bray, April 2014, middle grade) is a lovely home-based timeslip fantasy to offer the introspective young girl (which is to say, if you don't know me already, it was a lovely book for me!). By "home-based" I mean a story in which the time travelling doesn't lead to grand adventures in exciting elsewheres. This is one that sticks close to home, and so it isn't one for those who want excitement--more for those who are fans of realistic fiction about ordinary girls, but with a magical twist.
Ashley is miserable. Her best friend has gone off to camp, and her mother has invited the child of a friend to spend the month with them--a seven year old girl named Claire, who's lost her own mom, and who Ashley is expected to babysit. But two things happen that make the month the opposite of terrible.
The first is that Ashley finds herself warming to determined, spunky Claire, whose drive and energy forces Ashley to do things she'd never have done on her own, like hanging out at the local senior center, doing crafts, hunting for thrift store treasures, and talking to people she doesn't already know. The last is especially hard for Ashley, because she has face-blindness--she cannot recognize people when she sees them out of context, and without her best friend at hand to tell her if she knows people, she's tremendously reluctant to reach out to strangers. But thanks to Claire, she makes new friends, one of whom a boy she would never have talked to otherwise...
The second thing that happens to Ashley is the discovery of a jar of wishes down in the basement--wishes written on scraps of paper by a girl named Shue years ago. When Ashley uncrumples each wish paper, she sees Shue living the experience that inspired it....and so, making a chronology of the wishes, she sees the story of all the ups and downs of Shue's friendship with another Ashley (Shue is a year younger than Ashley, and so parts of her story, when Ashley is off with older girls, are rather poignant....)
I've never read a book whose main character has face blindness, aka prosopagnosia. Ashley's experiences dealing with it seemed convincing, and the effects of it on her life, and her self-esteem, are made clear without being over-dramatized. This make it a good one to offer the young reader who's interested in physical/neurological differences and how they affect life experiences. (It also helps keep one of the sub-plots plausible!)
Both the Claire story and the timeslip story are interesting in their own right for those who like character-driven story full of small happenings and several nice surprises (one of which involves Ashley's favorite author, so especially pleasing for us bibliophiles!). The whole ensemble comes together very nicely indeed to make the story of this month in Ashley's live a lovely, warm reading experience that I enjoyed lots.