Author: Risa Green
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, 2010
Where I got it: I was sent a copy by the publisher for review.
Erin Channing leads a pretty boring life. She has the highest GPA in the tenth grade, does nothing out of the ordinary, takes no risks, and plays by the rules. That is, until she inherits a Pink Crystal Ball (think Magic 8 Ball, but clear with pink opaque liquid inside) from her recently deceased Aunt Kiki. After the initial grief of losing her aunt, Erin and her friends realize there's more to this Pink Crystal Ball than it first appears. Could it grant her wishes for real? This might be the answer to all her problems, including her boring life—but it also might come at a cost.
At first I was a little worried about the way certain concepts and practices were treated in this book. Green takes real religious practices and things that are taken very seriously by some people, and kind of mocks them a bit—it made me slightly uncomfortable. But then I took a step back and tried to enjoy the story for what it was: a light, fun comedy of errors/coming-of-age story with a dash of romance and magic.
At first I didn't really like Erin or her friends, but as time went on I definitely changed my mind. I kind of was like Erin in high school, though I did do other things besides study. They're all pretty easy to identify with, for the most part, and I ended up invested in the outcome of their story.
I enjoyed seeing how the ball made certain wishes come true, especially since they didn't always turn out quite the way Erin envisioned. Especially when she made wishes about changing things about her body. Pretty funny, that.
But despite all of the fun and silly things that happen, there are some heavier issues explored, like grief, reconciliation, serious bullying (in person and via the Internet), family problems, not to mention three-dimensionality in some supposedly stock characters. Erin's friend Lindsay is tormented by a girl in their grade, to the point she fakes sick and stays home from school; her other friend Samantha, though rich, has to live with parents who hate each other and openly talk about their feelings in front of her; Erin and her mother both have to deal with Kiki's (her mother's sister) death and the lack of closure, as she hadn't spoken to either of them in the last year of her death.
What I was perhaps most surprised about was the development of Megan, the mean girl who tortures Lindsay and has been for years. Green gives her layers that we don't expect, especially ones that Erin herself is surprised to discover. It also makes her readers wonder about the people they dislike in their own lives.
This book is a lesson in learning to look deeper than the surface, to take a few chances in life and to enjoy it while you can. And the best part is Green manages to get this point across without being corny, and still making it a fun time.
Want your own, SIGNED copy of this book? Sign up below! Sorry, this one is for U.S. residents only, since the author is sending the book herself. One entry per person, please. This contest will end Wednesday, 12/15 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.