Sent to stay with her aunt and uncle in Colby, North Carolina, an angry girl makes the same wish daily.
Charlie’s daddy’s in jail, her mama stays in bed all day, and her older sister’s living with a friend. Daily, the almost-11 white girl wishes for her broken family to heal. (The many ways she wishes form something of a catalog of folk and family traditions and are delightful all by themselves.) When the social worker sends her to live with Bertha and Gus, Charlie feels like “a loser that nobody wanted” and hates living with total strangers in a hillbilly town. Bertha and Gus, on the other hand, seem truly thrilled to have Charlie with them, even when she’s rude, sulking, or getting into trouble at school. Charlie doesn’t know what to make of affable, white Howard, the class geek, who walks with a limp and befriends her even though she ignores him. With Bertha and Gus, Charlie finds a stable, loving home. With Howard, Charlie finds a steadfast friend who helps her catch a stray dog she names Wishbone. After weeks living with Bertha and Gus, playing with Howard and Wishbone, and slowly fitting into Colby, Charlie learns Mama wants her to come home. But where is home? Speaking in an honest voice revealing her hurt, resentment, and vulnerability, Charlie explains how her wish comes true.
A warm, real, and heartfelt tale. (Fiction. 9-12)