The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner


Goodreads: The Seventh Wish
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: June 2016


Charlie wants more than anything to be able to buy a solo dress with crystals for her next Irish dance competition.  Ice fishing will give her the chance to earn some money, but she never expected to catch a magic fish–one that will grant her wishes if she spares its life.  But life is complicated and Charlie is about to find out that wishing does not make problems go away.


The Seventh Wish is a modern take on the Brothers Grimm tale “The Fisherman and His Wife,” in which a magical fish grants wishes in exchange for its life.  In this tale, however, it is not a poor couple who captures the fish, but a young girl named Charlie who wishes for good things for her friends and family.  However, she soon learns that wishes can go unexpectedly awry and that sometimes it’s safer to engage in good old-fashioned work to achieve one’s dreams.

The story starts out as what might seem like a standard middle-grade book about a girl trying to navigate relationships at school and home while also trying to excel in a pastime she loves (in this case, Irish dance).  However, in this story, friends and sisters do not drift apart because of time or because of new interests.  Instead, Charlie finds her life tumbling down around her when her family is affected by the heroin epidemic.  It is an authorial decision that has caused some controversy for the book.  And yet, many children have experienced the same pain, betrayal, and confusion as Charlie when the epidemic has affected their own loved ones.  There’s no point in hiding a story about what these children already know all too well.

As always, Kate Messner depicts her characters with great empathy.  She does not excuse their actions, but she does offer out the hope of redemption for them.  Recovery is an everyday struggle–one that the addict as well as her family will experience through life.  But, the story suggests, it is a struggle that can be won.  The Seventh Wish is a beautiful, heartfelt book, one that I can imagine has given comfort to many of its readers as it reminds them, as reading reminded Matilda, “you are not alone.”

4 stars

2 thoughts on “The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

  1. ofmariaantonia says:

    The best thing about this book, in my opinion, was the heroin thing going on. I thought Messner dealt with that topic quite well… about how it affected the sisters and the whole family. I didn’t think it was too graphic. I thought it was quite age-appropriate for the upper middle grade crowd. (Although plot-wise, I thought that Charlie finds out too soon. Pretty much the same time as her parents if I’m remembering correctly. I would have liked the secret to have lasted a little longer, as least for Charlie.)


    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I thought it was handled in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner. I don’t understand why some schools cancelled her author appearances. The heroin epidemic has touched a lot of families and I think talking about it through the book could have been very beneficial. The book clearly shows the effects of heroin on the user and the families. It doesn’t glorify anything. So, again, I’m not sure why the author couldn’t do her scheduled talks. Schools already talk about drugs with kids and how to say no. It isn’t like they aren’t aware these things exist.

      Yeah, she finds out about the same time. I assume to keep the narrative moving apace.


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