STARRED REVIEW
August 2020

What You Wish For

By Katherine Center

Katherine Center, reigning queen of comfort reads, returns with an exuberant new novel that will have readers rejoicing. What You Wish For is a bona fide explosion of happiness packaged in book form.

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Katherine Center, reigning queen of comfort reads, returns with an exuberant new novel that will have readers rejoicing. What You Wish For is a bona fide explosion of happiness packaged in book form.

Ensconced in the free-spirited island town of Galveston, Texas, Samantha Casey is living the life of her dreams. Working as a school librarian, Sam is like a second daughter to the Kempner School’s founders, Max and Babette, and she feels like she’s finally found the family she’s always craved. However, when Max tragically dies, Sam’s personal and professional life is thrown into complete upheaval. 

Then Max’s replacement is announced, and Sam can’t decide what’s worse: that her unrequited crush, Duncan Carpenter, is back in her life and is now her boss, or that this new Duncan is nothing like the man she remembers. Gone is the sweet, goofy man with an infectious joie de vivre. Duncan 2.0 is an authoritarian killjoy who is obsessed with safety and intent on transforming Kempner into a glorified prison.

Sam decides to fight for her school and her students, launching a “joy offensive” on Duncan to help him remember who he used to be. If she happens to lose her heart to him all over again in the process—well, that’s a risk she’ll have to take.

A compassionate story of grief and resilience, What You Wish For is also a vital reminder that joy is not just something that happens to us but also something we have the power to choose. As Max always told Sam, we must “never miss a chance to celebrate,” even when things get tough. Ultimately, that is what Center has created for her readers: a quirky confection that celebrates life in all its imperfect glory and delivers a much-needed dose of optimism.

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What You Wish For

What You Wish For

By Katherine Center
St. Martin’s
ISBN 9781250219367

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