In the aftermath of tragedy, does the Carnival of Wishes and Dreams still have the power to sway the fates of three former friends?
When a factory caught fire in Clarkville, it irrevocably altered life in the small town. And perhaps no one felt the impacts more than Audrey McKinley, Grace Chang, and Harlow Carlson, each of whom sustained significant personal loss. A year later, the pain still lingers, but on this one magical night, can wishes actually come true? Told in alternating chapters from each seventh-grade girl’s perspective over the course of the evening, the story takes on loss, bullying, social media, first love, and friendships. It’s a captivating conceit, with the girls’ paths circling ever closer to midnight and one another over the carnival grounds. While the emotional maelstrom of middle school holds water, though, other aspects don’t quite coalesce. Despite heavy-handed attempts to create sympathy, readers see just enough of Harlow’s privilege and past that they may consider her current status as bullying target as comeuppance. Grace is something of a cipher, and Lundquist can’t seem to decide whether her reticence is a pre-existing condition or a function of her grief. It does not help that, as the granddaughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she is the only character specifically ethnically identified, with most of the other characters assumed white.
Like carnival fare, somehow both overwrought and insubstantial. (Fiction. 8-12)