When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad’s whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she’s Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she’s the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.
In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she’s got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she’s ever seen.
But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie.
So when she’s offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?
The choice isn’t as simple as you think.
I remember when I was in grade school I read this book by either Vivian Vande Velde or R. L. Stine about these kids whose wishes were granted by this creepy old woman in the forest. The kids then realized the meaning of that idiom “be careful what you wish for.” Annie Nutter is the kind of kid you will have two reactions to:
1. You will want to take her aside and give her a hug and a makeover.
2. You will, like all the other so-called cool kids, taunt and bully her.
Oh wait, there’s another option:
3. You will ignore her.
See, none of these options are a good feeling for Annie. Even her name makes her sound undesirable, so imagine how awful it must be for her to navigate the shark infested hallways of high school. Especially when she is so painfully not one of the cool kids. In fact, not only is she not cool, she’s not benign enough to be invisible – her imperfections make her the perfect victim for the bullies. So when she wakes up one morning as someone who is beautiful, rich and in possession of everything that Annie has scarcely dared to dream of, she’s happy.
The thing about Don’t You Wish is that it gets you. Right there in the chest where the dweeb who is scared of never being accepted by her peers lives. There is a sincerity about it and the book succeeds in telling its story without seeming preachy or having the moral high ground. It just honestly tells the story of a girl who, when she is granted everything she could have wished for, finds out the hard way that the grass is unfortunately not only not green but not even fresh on the other side of the fence.
Annie is a strong, beautiful character who will make you empathize with her feelings without feeling like you want to smack her. Of course her choices and decisions aren’t always the most perfect ones but that’s kinda the point. You are with her on a journey that will leave her a better person. Someone who can accept herself, zits, name and all.
St. Clair mixes a touch of fantasy with strong contemporary themes to create a story that paints a beautifully honest picture of not just what it is like to be a teenager but what it is to be human. Everyone has wishes but what determines a person’s worth is what that person does when his/her wishes are granted. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good book.