Seventeen-year-old Eldon Wilkes counts the days in Madison—a dump of a town in the Mojave Desert—where he pumps gas to make ends meet. The only cool person in his family, his sister Ebba, is unresponsive in a care facility. But the town of Madison has a well-kept secret: Every resident on their 18th birthday walks deep into a cavern on the edge of town and makes a wish that comes true.
Eldon has 25 days to decide on his wish. His mom urges him to wish for money to hire specialists to heal his sister, but Eldon worries she’s beyond saving. Eldon decides to interview the people of Madison about their wishes and studies a history book that lists every wish ever made. From what he can tell, nary a wish has improved the lives of the wisher or anyone else.
In As You Wish, author Chelsea Sedoti (The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett) masterfully crafts a tale that draws together the stories of an entire town’s residents while focusing on Eldon and his friends. Through Eldon’s wrenching struggles, we see how the possibility of getting what you think you want is fraught with complications. Despite the magical elements, Eldon’s actions and longings ring true, reminding us that every day serves up life-altering choices, both large and small.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.