***ARC received by Random House publishing for review***
Don’t You Wish is one of those books that took me completely by surprise! The synopsis was unique, a contemporary YA with a bit of a paranormal twist. The pretty cover is what drew me in (of course!) and I was expecting a light, sweet and funny story and was surprised that the story was emotional and deep.
Annie Nutter is a normal girl: she considers herself plain, is one of the “invisibles” at school and has a slightly dysfunctional family. Her father is a hoarder and inventor, unfortunately none of his inventions have taken off and he is working at Radio Shack for minimum wage. One day, she catches her mom crying while reading an Architectural Digest magazine at Wal-Mart. Turns out, one of the featured houses belongs to Jim Monroe, a billionaire with an amazing house who her mother used to date before she met her father. Her mother is convinced that her life would have been so perfect if she would have married Jim instead. That same day, Annie’s dad shows her his latest invention which unlike his other inventions, has actual potential. Picture-Perfect, a mirror that shows you the reflection of a perfect you. When Annie looks in the mirror, she sees a perfect version of herself and she can’t help but wonder if that would of been her if her mother would have married Jim instead. Surely all her problems would go away if she were rich and popular…right?
The next morning, Annie is shocked and surprised when she wakes up in a different house. She realizes that this is Jim Monroe’s house from Architectural Digest. Annie now looks like the perfect girl in the mirror, whose name is Ayla Monroe. Convinced that this is all just a crazy dream she decides to just go with it. After all, she is now the most popular girl at school, she has the best clothes and the hottest boyfriend, what could go wrong? She soon discovers that Ayla’s life is not so perfect after all, in fact, it’s even more of a mess than her old life. Her father is a controlling and manipulative business man who cheats on his wife and is never home, her mother (who is her same mother) and her do not get along. And Ayla? Despite being rich and popular, Ayla is a horrible person who is mean to the invisibles and the help, she does drugs and shoplifts, and she spies on her mother in exchange for money from her dad. At first, Ayla goes along with it because she is convinced that it’s a dream. But every morning when she wakes up still in Ayla’s body and her life she starts making small changes. Small changes that have big consequences for her status as popular girl. She starts off actually studying for her tests instead of cheating and even (gasp!) being nice to the invisibles.
She becomes friends with a guy named Charlie, who is basically the lowest of the invisibles. He was a former homeless kid who is attending Croppe Academy on a scholarship. Because of this he is constantly made fun of and harassed, even by the school staff. Despite the many warnings from her friends, her “father” and even the school lunch lady, Ayla/Annie keeps being friends with Charlie. They have a lot in common and end up developing a real relationship, despite the fact that Annie’s new life is all a lie. Annie finally realizes that her old life was already perfect but is it all too late? If she even finds a way to go back what will happen to her new life and will she ever see Charlie again?
Although it was hard to like Annie in the beginning of the book because of some of the choices she made, she completely redeemed herself in my eyes. When she realized that she wasn’t in a dream, she immediately started making changes to become a better person, no matter which body she would end up stuck in. The characters were very realistic, even the annoying popular friends. I can honestly say that this was one of the very few books where I just had NO idea where the story would take me next! Every twist completely changed the outcome that I had predicted in my head and kept me guessing right up to the very last line of the book. I had no idea if Annie would find her way back or if she would live as Ayla forever and I had no clue who I wanted her to end up as. Despite everything, I loved the ending of the book and I thought that it was perfect for the story. I do wish that there would have been an epilogue or something to wrap up a couple of loose ends, but overall really enjoyed this book!
4 out of 5 sparkly stars!
Some of my favorite non-spoiler quotes from Don’t You Wish:
-Sure enough, I find her nose-deep in the Mother of All House Porn, Architectural Digest, her frosted hair covering her face.
-If Architectural Digest did a pictorial on our home, it wouldn’t be called “Living a Flawless Life.” More like “Navigating the Nutter Clutter.”
-Is this some kind of joke? A reality TV show? Am I being punked?
It has to be a dream. Either that or I’m dead and this is…Oh, if that’s true, then the big guy totally overlooked all those times I punched Theo, and sent me straight up to the Good Place.
-I slide on sunglasses, covering my dazzling green eyes. Because this dream is so bright, I gotta wear shades.
-This is my life. Cool girls. Hip stores. To die for clothes. And…shoplifting. How bad do I want to fit in?
-I let out a slightly over dramatic sigh. “I want to go home.”
“You sound like Dorothy in Oz.”
I manage a smile, and unfamiliar weight settling on my chest. “Yeah, sometimes I know precisely how she felt.”
-I don’t miss my friends and family and home…I miss me.
***Interview with Roxanne St. Claire***
1. Is Don’t You Wish a stand alone or will it be part of a series?
Don’t You Wish is that rare breed: a stand alone book. No series, no trilogy, no more. But I’ve been getting some amazing feedback from readers who find that a refreshing change — I hope!
2. What is your favorite non-spoiler quote or scene from Don’t You Wish?
I’m pretty crazy about the book, so there are a lot of those quotes and scenes. Probably my very favorite is the scene in the boys bathroom when Ayla/Annie crawls under a stall door to help Charlie. As she says, she wouldn’t brave the boys bathroom floor for just anybody. It’s so clearly something Annie would do, but so unthinkable in Ayla’s body.
3. Describe Annie is 3 words…
Loyal. Endearing. Intelligent.
4. What is your favorite YA Book or series?
I just read Gena Showalter’s ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND, coming out in September. Love, love, love. I’m also really excited about Kresley Cole’s new Arcana Chronicles, also launching in September. I never miss anything Simone Elkeles writes, either — gritty and realistic YA romance.
5. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
Rock of Pages (My lifelong nick name is Rock or Rocki.)
6. Can you tell us three things about yourself that you can’t find on the Internet?
Probably not – I’ve been pretty open about my life for the decade that I’ve been writing books. Let’s see…when I was an actress, I had a part on the TV show Bosom Buddies and met Tom Hanks on the same episode where he met another actress, named Rita Wilson. (Talk about what could have been! Why didn’t Tom marry me?) I have a weakness for chocolate covered potato chips. And…I read the Bible every day.
7. You’ve written almost 30 books in many different genres, was it hard writing your first YA book?
Not at all! I’m surrounded by teenagers and the characters were incredibly alive to me. I’ve written thirty books, and this was definitely in the top five for “easy, fun, and not too many howls of pain in the process.” Some of them are really, really hard and that’s usually because I just don’t understand the characters well enough.
8. If you could switch places with anyone, who would you pick and why?
Nope. Never. I learned my lesson writing this book. But it wouldn’t be horrible to climb into Angelina Jolie’s life (and bed with Brad) for a day (or night).
9. Describe Don’t You Wish in 10 words or less…
A book to make you appreciate all things that suck in your life. (Whoops, three extra. Editor, please!)
***Roxanne is offering a signed copy of Don’t You Wish, US/Canada only***
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