Also by this author: Things You Save in a Fire
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 14, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Katherine Center’s latest novel, What You Wish For, is a beautiful story about love and loss, friendship and “found” family, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a story about overcoming fears, embracing joy, and living life to the fullest.
The story follows Samantha (“Sam”) Casey, an elementary school librarian at a prestigious private school in Galveston, Tx. Life is pretty good for Sam when we first meet her. She loves her job – the school itself is fantastic with a vibrant, creative atmosphere, and Sam loves interacting with her students and with her colleagues. She even loves her bosses, Max and Babette Kempner, the beloved founders of the school who also happen to be Sam’s landlords. Over the years, Sam has come to think of Max and Babette as family.
When tragedy strikes unexpectedly and Max passes away, Sam’s life, both personally and professionally, is thrown into turmoil, especially when she learns that the man hired to replace Max as Principal is none other than Duncan Carpenter, a teacher from her old life that Sam had a mad crush on, so much so that when she realized she had missed her chance with him and that he was marrying someone else, she immediately resigned her position and moved to Texas to get away from his happily ever after with someone else. When Duncan arrives, Sam is shocked that 1) he doesn’t even recognize her, and 2) he immediately starts dismantling everything about her beloved school that made it so special.
What You Wish For really took off for me from the moment Duncan walked back into Sam’s life. He’s so awful and not at all like Sam has described him to her friends that I, like Sam, was obsessed with trying to figure out what had happened to cause such a radical change in his personality. I was even more hooked by the story though from the moment Sam and Duncan have their first meeting. It’s borderline hostile and he clearly doesn’t remember Sam, but even so, the chemistry between them is intense and the sparks are flying. This was a relationship I was eager to see evolve!
Aside from the relationship between Sam and Duncan, I also just loved all of the secondary characters in this story. I already mentioned the lovable Max and Babette, but there’s also Alice, the hilarious math teacher who wears math pun t-shirts to work everyday and who is also Sam’s best friend. Then there is Babette’s adorable grandson, Clay, who is a bookworm and loves to hang out in the library with Sam. Oh and there’s also an adorable labradoodle named Chuck Norris who will absolutely melt your heart.
The last thing I want to mention is a major theme running through the story that I really loved. It was Max’s life philosophy, which he imparted to Sam over the years anytime he sensed her struggling. Max believed that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how scared or stressed you may be, it’s important to always choose joy. That while it may not solve all of your problems, it’s a great place to start. I thought that was such a beautiful philosophy, and one that is especially relevant right now, with everything that is going on in the world.
What You Wish For is my third Katherine Center novel and she has yet to disappoint. Her stories are always so moving and filled with unforgettable characters, and they never fail to leave me with a full heart and a smile on my face. If that sounds like your kind of read, you definitely want to give What You Wish For a try.