Lucy Hart grew up without parents who cared and found escape through the Clock Island book series by Jack Masterson. When she was 13 she ran away to the real Clock Island and met Masterson. Now she is twenty-six and a teacher’s aide. She wants more than anything else to adopt seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, but she doesn’t make enough money for proper housing or a car so she is unable to qualify to foster to adopt.
Then author Masterson announces a contest. He is inviting four contestants to Clock Island to compete in a series of games/riddles. The winner will receive the only copy of his new novel, worth a fortune, and can do what they please with it. Lucy is one of the lucky contestants. While on the island she must also deal with the curmudgeonly but handsome Hugo Reese, the illustrator of the Clock Island books.
The Wishing Game is an excellent debut novel and is going to appeal to all Willy Wonka fans. It’s compelling, engaging and held my rapt attention from beginning to end. It could be a YA book, or certainly appropriate for YA readers, but as an adult reader it resonated with me too. There are some heavy themes in the plot but they are handled circumspectly. The narrative is mainly told through Lucy’s point-of-view, with excerpts from one of the Clock Island books interspersed between the chapters. There are also several chapters from Hugo’s perspective.
We don’t have in-depth character development of everyone, but we do have Lucy, Hugo and Masterson developed to some degree, enough that readers will care what happens. The ending is absolutely perfect in every way. This is a novel about hope and the power of books in a life. The Wishing Game would be a wonderful choice for summer reading! Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Random House via NetGalley.