⇒“Pay attention to the things that connect you with joy.” —What You Wish For by Katherine Center⇐
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan Audio, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Author: Katherine Center Narrator: Therese Plummer
(3.99 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Romance / Women’s Lit.
Publication Date: July 14, 2020, by Macmillan Audio
320 Pages (Hardcover) ; 9hr 56 min (audio)
The point is to be happy anyway. As often as you can.
One of the running themes I have heard over the past 6 months is that we should all be doing things that give us a more positive outlook on life. Whether that means baking sourdough bread, crocheting booties for your Pomeranian, joining the latest Tik Tok dance craze, or (most likely for me) reading more books!
There’s a new outlook on the phrase “If it feels good, do it.” because people just need a good pick-me-up these days. And, if her book history has taught us anything, Katherine Center is the way to go when you need a feel-good title.
Her latest release, What You Wish For, is no exception. Let’s check out the blurb…
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.
The world keeps hanging on to this idea that love is for the gullible. But nothing could be more wrong. Love is only for the brave.
OK, so that was a big buildup for a book that I only felt meh about, which was utterly surprising to me! I usually am able to get all the way down with KC’s books. Want proof? Check out my previous reviews for How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire – both 4 solid stars!
So what went wonky here? Well, I’ll come to that shortly, but let’s first look at what went right. Katherine Center’s books are feel-good, empowering stories that leave you thinking about more than just the characters and plot. They tug at your heart and encourage you to do more and be better. They are stories that open your eyes to the human condition and help you see the light at the end of all of life’s dark tunnels.
I know that sounds a bit over-the-top, but it’s truly how reading her books makes me feel – like there’s a bigger picture, and I need to be seeing it.
I’m not happy because it comes easily to me. I bite and scratch and claw my way toward happiness every day.
What You Wish For, specifically, encourages resilience and determination in the midst of crippling hardships. Even though it deals with some pretty tragic topics, overall it is upbeat and even funny. But…
I really struggled with the writing style on this one. If you’re really into inner dialogue, then this is your sourdough bread and butter. There is SOOOO much of it, and, yes, it’s distracting. It takes away from the current action, causing you to do deep dives into the main character’s back-and-forth self-judgment and bootstrap-pulling for a length of time that then forces the author to circle back and remind you (and herself, maybe?) what was going on before you got sucked into that abyss of a brain monologue. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
It makes me wonder if I may have had a different opinion if I had been reading the book myself instead of listening to it on audio. I listened to the audiobook version as narrated by Therese Plummer, who is… committed (to say the least). It felt a lot like performance art rather than the usual audiobook narration that we’re used to. Which fit the main character’s personality to a tee, but didn’t necessarily endear me to her skittish, indecisive, flamboyance.
Overall, I appreciate the lofty goals of this book, it just didn’t have the same satisfying effect that her previous releases have had on me. I really do wish I could give it more than 3 stars for the author’s sake, but in all honesty, that is rounded up.
Listen to Katherine Center read an excerpt of What You Wish For
Want even more? Visit KatherineCenter.com
Katherine has been compared to both Nora Ephron and Jane Austen, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in USA Today, InStyle, Redbook, People, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Real Simple, Southern Living, and InTouch, among others. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her fun husband, two sweet kids, and fluffy-but-fierce dog. -bio from katherinecenter.com