Book Review: Secondhand Wishes by Anna Staniszewski

Thanks to Kidlit Exchange and Scholastic for the Advance Review Copy of SECONDHAND WISHES by Anna Staniszewski, released January 29, 2019 from Scholastic.

As long as she does everything perfectly, stays organized, and never messes up, loveable perfectionist Lexi Block can keep the universe in balance and her chronically ill little brother Austin from needing more surgeries.

When she finds a probably incomplete bag of four (everybody knows real magic involves an uneven number) wishing stones at a family friend’s antique shop, all Lexi’s problems are solved. Right?

Except secondhand wishing mean a small twist on the magic: Lexi’s belting out tunes from one of the few decent 90s grunge rock bands during a dance audition; a newly Austin seems to believe he’s a hamster; and unwelcome BFF usurper Marina becomes literally invisible to the rest of Lexi’s friend group.

Lexi needs to track down the original owner and find a way to fix the magic – fast – before her life spirals further downward. But first she may have to accept that it’s OK not to be perfect, and that life can be good when it’s unpredictable.

While SECONDHAND WISHES wraps up maybe a bit too neatly, it’s a feel-good story with a ton of brilliantly-executed twists, turns, and little clues that keep the pages turning.

While the main character and her family are presumably white, the demographics of Lexi’s interracial semi-crush and his LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 moms were presented as a passing mention. I want to move to Lexi’s town.

Give to: Kids who need to understand they don’t have to be perfect (note that Lexi isn’t diagnosed with OCD, but likely has some issues with anxiety); siblings of chronically ill children; adult fans of Kidlit who like life hack cleaning tips embedded in a feel-good Middle Grade fantasy story.

For fans of: Sarah Mlynowski’s Upside-Down Magic series and possibly Gaby Triana’s CAKESPELL.

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