In this novel-length riff on “The Fisherman and His Wife,” when Charlie goes ice fishing with pal Drew and his nana, she catches a fish who says it will grant her wishes in return for its release.
Charlie would like some control over her life, so she keeps hooking the fish even as she learns, like her fairy-tale predecessors, that wording matters. After all, Charlie's hope that Roberto Sullivan notice her goes unfulfilled. Instead, a boy named Robert O'Sullivan shows up! Her generous intentions toward friends and family meet with varying success as well. Drew makes the basketball team, except he doesn't like sports; and good friend Dasha passes her ESL class only to find keeping up in regular classes difficult. Charlie narrates, making dry, honest observations that zing straight to the hearts of readers, especially as the story builds toward one of Charlie's most anxious pleas: that her beloved college-student sister be cured of her heroin addiction. But wishing doesn't make it so. Charlie's largely white upstate New York world is fully realized, typical in its everyday concerns and complicated by a frightening, news-making epidemic. As Charlie processes the changes in her life, her perspective shifts. Friends of all ages, old and new, support her. And she finds outlets in ice fishing and Irish dance. Most affecting, Charlie begins to understand the serenity prayer.
Hopeful, empathetic, and unusually enlightening. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)