Rallison, Janette. 2009. Just One Wish. Putnam. March 2009. 272 pages.
I would have expected to see this sort of line if, say, Elvis had returned from the dead to give a concert.
Just One Wish is both predictable and heartfelt. On the one hand, we've got Annika Truman, a big sister with all the bravado in the world, who'll do whatever it takes to make her little brother, Jeremy, feel safe and secure heading into his surgery: he's got cancer, brain cancer. She's a girl with no bounds; she'll be in-your-face and won't-take-no-for-an-answer. She'll out-maneuver and outwit anyone and everyone who stands in her way. Rather it be the bully-of-a-man at the toy store who has all the Teen Robin Hood dolls in his basket. Or the real-life star of Teen Robin Hood, Steve Raleigh. You see, she's promised her brother the impossible: that wishes really do come true. Now to prove it, she must get Robin Hood to visit him--Jeremy--in person before his surgery which is just a handful of days away.
Can a girl--no matter how bold and impulsive--and her best friend do the impossible? Go to Hollywood, crash the set of their favorite show, and convince the star himself to go back home with her?
All these elements--a girl who can manipulate herself into and out of a hundred and one crazy scenarios--make for a plot that at first seems so unbelievable that it's hard to care. However, I'll be the first to admit that this silly plot--ordinary girl meets dreamy-celebrity-heartthrob--turns into so much more by the end. Yes, those elements were predictable. And I have a hard time finding them realistic--pure fantasy and wish fulfillment in my opinion. (Like most teen romance movies that you get all giddy about when you see them on the screen.) But as this persona she portrays breaks down--layer by layer by layer--we see the vulnerable-and-achy, scared-silly girl that you can't help loving.
Just One Wish is both a novel about family and a novel about love. As a family drama--the story of a brother and sister, it is heartfelt. Not all of her family is fleshed-out, far from it, but her devotion she feels for her brother--her worry, her hopes, her fears, her genuine love--is there throughout. As a romance, it starts off silly I admit. But by the end, I was satisfied with how it all developed. I liked it.
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