This inspirational story set in the 1960s will resonate with a wide range of readers.
Aislinn O’Neill is expecting big things in the summer before her eighth-grade year. She dreams that her father will quit drinking, that her family will finally own their own home and that a boy named Mike Mancinello will like her. Tall orders all. And it’s not like she gets to devote all of her time to seeing them come true. Aislinn, or A for short, is in charge of her four younger siblings—B, C, D and E—while her parents are at work. Even when her parents are home, she is expected to help with household duties and is forbidden from socializing with her peers by her overprotective, controlling, alcoholic father. Aislinn never loses hope, however, and finally she hits upon an idea that just might work. Everyone needs help to make dreams come true, she reasons, and how can others help if people’s dreams are tucked too deeply inside their hearts to ever be seen by anyone else? Aislinn grabs a label, prints a wish on it, sticks it right on her sleeve and starts a mini-revolution.
While a few passages lean precariously toward the polemical and the resolutions are pretty quick and tidy, readers will be too squarely in A’s court to care. (Historical fiction. 10-14)