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Genie Wishes

Review

Genie Wishes

Genie Kunkle and her best friend, Sarah, are enjoying the last day of summer vacation when Genie notices the class list has arrived from school. She points to a name on the list, one she has never seen before: Blair Annabelle Lea. Since they haven't had a new student in their class since second grade, it's worth noticing. However, it seems that Sarah already knows this new girl. They met at camp; Sarah is even wearing a special friendship bracelet that Blair made for her.

"GENIE WISHES feels spot-on, recounting the joys and pitfalls of fifth-grade in a realistic manner that manages to be both humorous and poignant."

Alas, when Genie meets Blair (who carries a pink bag that says "BOYZZZZ!" on it,) she is not as enthused about her as Sarah is. Blair peppers conversations with in-jokes directed toward Sarah and the experiences they shared at camp. She also insists everyone needs a cell-phone so they can text because "E-mail's, like, so three years ago." Blair also doesn't hold back from making fun of Genie's full name, which happens to be "Genie Haddock Kunkle."

Things start looking up when Genie's teacher, Mr. Sayler, announces that each class will have a blog on the school website. Although Genie hesitates at first, she finally puts her name forth as a candidate. Still, she can't believe it when she wins her class's election. She is equal parts thrilled and terrified. The theme for all of the blogs will be "Wishes, Hopes and Dreams." How on earth can she come up with blog entries that will encompass such lofty notions? Genie's friends have ideas for her, starting with the reinstitution of their beloved "Junk Food Lunch," which the parents' association has successfully lobbied to have removed from the school lunch menu. Most of the students chime in, mourning their treat-filled lunch.

Genie is relieved that her friends suggested she write about Junk Food Lunch; at least she won't have to dream up a topic for her very first post. Meanwhile, Blair rolls her eyes and announces that "Blogs are so, like, three years ago," which causes Genie to muse (and not for the last time) that the transitive properties she learned in math do not seem to apply to friendship: Blair is friends with Sarah, Sarah is friends with Genie --- but it doesn't seem to follow that Blair is friends with Genie.

Sarah helps Genie invent a pen name for her blog. The two girls brainstorm the perfect name, combining her name with the theme of "Wishes, Hopes and Dreams." Genie pens her first blog post under the name "Genie Wishes." Her entry is brief and to the point, explaining the Junk Food Lunch dilemma and ending with a wish that Junk Food Lunch would return. Unsure, she emails the post to Mr. Sayler to be sure it's acceptable. He assures her that it is and that she need not ask his permission before posting her future blog entries (this both pleases and worries her.)

GENIE WISHES feels spot-on, recounting the joys and pitfalls of fifth-grade in a realistic manner that manages to be both humorous and poignant. Genie is a sympathetic main character, perfect for rooting for. Although the theme of lost friendship is certainly not new, author Elisabeth Dahl manages to treat it in a refreshingly original manner, with Genie staying on an even keel and finding new friends rather than plunging into despair over the changes in her relationship with Sarah. Along with the three-dimensional characters, the plot steps right along, making for a fast-paced and enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 23, 2013

Genie Wishes
by Elisabeth Dahl

  • Publication Date: April 2, 2013
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • ISBN-10: 1419705261
  • ISBN-13: 9781419705267