Wish Girl, by Nikki Loftin--beautiful, sweet, poignant, and really cool!

One of my favorite types of books as a child (and grownup) are those involving a lonely kid (mostly girls) finding peaceful refuges--ala The Velvet Room, in Zilpha Keatly Snyder's book of that name,  Mandy's house in the woods, by Julie Edwards, and lots in Elizabeth Goudge's books....Wish Girl, by Nikki Loftin (Razorbill, Feb 2015) is a book of that sort, only in this case the main character isn't a girl; he's a lonely, introverted boy desperately searching for the quiet he badly needs, and he finds his peace in a magical east Texas valley.    But regardless of gender and refuge particulars, reading Wish Girl felt familiar and friendly...except for something I've can't recall ever reading before--  here the refuge is not just beautiful and peaceful...it is magical, a character in its own right.  I was totally Team Valley from the start.....

Peter's family has moved from the city out into the middle of nowhere, Texas Hill Country--partly because life in the city was not kind to introverted, bullied, Peter and his parents think a fresh start will help.  But the small house with all his loud family in it, mentally and emotionally pulling on him, isn't what Peter needs, so when he finds the Valley, a beautiful piece of nature where quiet is the order of the day, his spirit can unclench itself.  To his initial dismay, though, he finds a person already at home there--a girl named Annie, who refers to herself as a "wish girl."    She is driven to create art in nature, in what time she might have left--she's a wish girl as in "make a wish foundation."  And she and Peter become friends, really seeing and appreciating each other in a way that is special for both of them (and, just saying, it's not romance; they are introverted kids who are kindred spirits).    The valley is a refuge for both, giving them what they need.

And the valley really does actually and fantastically look after its friends....there are two bad boys, the sort that run around with a gun shooting animals, who are not its friends--instead of clear water and flowers and a cute baby armadillo, the bad boys get attacked by insects....And the two bad boys decide to make Peter their victim...and since his parents aren't listening to him, or hearing what he needs, they think it's nice that there are boys nearby for him to be friends with.  And so, when the physical abuse from the bullies and the noise at home drive him to escape, it is of course to the valley that he goes.

And Annie is also trying to escape...her cancer is back, and she's supposed to be starting new treatments that could leave her permanently un-Annie.  She can't stand the thought that she might loose her creative spark and love of beauty and art...but her mother isn't listening to her, either.   But the valley, try though it may, can't make everything all magically better, or keep all violence out.....

I love the valley.  It is so well described that I feel I have been there, and it is beautiful.  If, like me, you still have several feet of dirty snow around and an icy driveway, it makes an especially nice change!  Annie and Peter's stories were moving without being too much to take; Annie is described in the official blurb as "the dying girl" but she isn't, she's a fiercely living girl and that is the point, and even though Peter's parents are dim, they at least care.  And then ending is not heartbreaking, which it so easily could have been.....I am particularly glad that the valley comes through it all unharmed!  There's not a ton of Action and Adventure, although there is a bit....it's definitely one for the place and character loving reader.

Give this to any introverted child who loves quiet places, or to a kid who appreciates being part of nature and making beautiful things!  Or give it to a kid who doesn't yet know that these things might be just what he or she needs....

Added bonus for those of us on the lookout for diversity--Annie, as shown in the cover, is a brown skinned girl....


  1. Mmm, this sounds like the kind of book I could use right now! I love the cover, too...that blue *-*

  2. This sounds like a completely wonderful book! That's two with recognizably brown girls on the cover - wow.

    1. ...and since my sister is a "Wish Girl," it's especially interesting.


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