March 28, 2013

Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl {Review}

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publish Date: April 2, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: Miss
This sweet, funny novel follows fifth-grader Genie Kunkle through a tumultuous year. From the first day of school, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She’s in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah’s friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie’s place as Sarah’s BFF. The in-between? Genie is excited to be elected to write her class’s blog, where she’s tasked with tracking the wishes and dreams of her class. But expressing her opinion in public can be scary—especially when her opinion might make the rest of her class upset.
I may have liked Genie Wishes when I was Genie's age, but I just couldn't get into it. That being said, I didn't particularly dislike it, I just couldn't connect with the characters or their problems.
First of all, I found the writing style to be a little distant. It felt more like a documentation of events from a neutral third-party than a young girl's personal journey and growth through her fifth grade year. When I read I story I want to feel like I'm right there with the characters, like their hurt and happiness is mine as well, and I just didn't feel that for Genie despite the fact that I've been through the difficult friend change process myself many times.

There were a lot of characters. So many, in fact, that I had some trouble keeping them all apart. Now, a large cast of characters can work if you flesh them out well enough, but I barely got a feel for Genie let alone the rest of her class.

I think I'm probably getting old because I can't remember any of these puberty things happening when I was ten. Do guys really go around snapping girls' bras? This never happened in my class, at any point in time, but do have any of you experienced it? Also, is it really that completely obvious when a girl starts wearing a bra? Maybe I just didn't notice these things, but I'd like to think all the boys in my class didn't immediately notice I was now a proud member of the Bra Wearing Club on the first day. Feel free to correct me down in the comments, though, guys :]

One thing I did appreciate about Genie Wishes was the way it eased into things. Nothing happened all at once. Instead of some big fight with her best friend, Genie just started drifting apart from her. I slowly noticed some change in Genie as she went through the year.
On the other side of that coin, though, is the lack of a clear plot structure. Everything just kind of blended together for me. I couldn't identify a beginning, a middle, and an end. Things were randomly introduced to the story and then never really end up having a purpose or resolution, such as the stray dog, Lulu, and Genie's dad starting to date.
The Nutshell: I recommend Genie Wishes for younger readers who are looking for a story about a girl going through a normal year of school dealing with similar things they might be dealing with. Personally, I couldn't connect with the story or get into the writing style, but that doesn't mean someone else might not enjoy it!

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