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Review: The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Title: The Wishing Game

Author: Meg Shaffer
Year published: 2023
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (ME)

SummaryMake a wish. . . .

Lucy Hart knows better than anyone what it’s like to grow up without parents who loved her. In a childhood marked by neglect and loneliness, Lucy found her solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, she is able to share her love of reading with bright, young students, especially seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, who was left orphaned after the tragic death of his parents. Lucy would give anything to adopt Christopher, but even the idea of becoming a family seems like an impossible dream without proper funds and stability.

But be careful what you wish for. . . .

Just when Lucy is about to give up, Jack Masterson announces he’s finally written a new book. Even better, he’s holding a contest at his home on the real Clock Island, and Lucy is one of the four lucky contestants chosen to compete to win the one and only copy.

For Lucy, the chance of winning the most sought-after book in the world means everything to her and Christopher. But first she must contend with ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and the distractingly handsome (and grumpy) Hugo Reese, the illustrator of the Clock Island books. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.

. . . You might just get it.

Review: I read this book on my two flights from Los Angeles to Zanzibar. They were both night flights, the second one leaving at 1:00am, but I read for most of the flight to finish the book. It's that good.

Jack has created a magical world in his books (it made me think a little bit about the Magic Treehouse books that kids love). Children and adults alike eagerly await the next installment. Does he cross the line when young kids write him fan letters, yes, I think so (not sexually, there is none of that in this novel). He so badly wants a child of his own, and wants to help children who are having problems with bullying, abusive parents, etc. So when 4 of his "children," who are now grown up return to his island, there is a real mixture of childhood, facing fears, thinking about one's wishes, and how we want to live our lives.

I was entranced by the whole thing: the stories he wrote; the island he lives on; Lucy's life (and love for the foster child); the riddles he tells; the paintings that Hugo paints; and budding romance. I got teary for the last portion of the book and found myself smiling many times while reading.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Bookish Books
  • Literary Escapes--Maine

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