THE WISHING TREE
YA magical realism
Growing up in Eldersby, Olivia has heard all of the local legends about the Wishing Tree. She never believed there was any truth to them. After a very public humiliation (in front of the best friend with whom she is secretly in love), Olivia decides to find out.
The next day, a freak accident befalls her arch-nemesis. The starting quarterback also suddenly takes notice of Olivia, which makes her best friend jealous. It seems too good to be true. Olivia makes another wish, and another.
For a small wish, there’s a small price. A big wish, a big price. The catch is that the wishes don’t cost the wisher directly.
At first, Olivia doesn’t make the connection between her wishes and their unintended consequences. When Olivia’s only competition for the lead in the Summer Fling is struck down by lightning, she begins to research local history to see if this has happened before.
Only an old woman suffering from dementia can see the wishing on Olivia. She tells her the Great Fire that nearly destroyed the town a century ago was started by a man who didn’t get his wish. The woman warns Olivia not to wish for love. It never comes out right.
As her desperation grows, torn between the quarterback and her best friend, Olivia uses the Wishing Tree as a weapon. Too late, she realizes that nothing comes for free. What will it take for Olivia to decide that the price of her dreams is too high?
“Go ask the Wishing Tree.”
I heard a snicker, and I froze. I knew that voice. It was the same one that had tormented me since the third grade. Icy sweat collected at the nape of my neck.
April Jensen’s reflection appeared just over my shoulder. “Ask the Wishing Tree to make you fit into that.”
My eyes darted from the mirror to the bikini in my hands. Midnight black and dotted with rosebuds, these tiny pieces of fabric were all that stood between me and the girl I wanted to be. Someone other than invisible Olivia Linden.
April grabbed my arm, spinning me around with a jerk. The bikini slipped from my grasp. She stood there laughing––her plump, pink lips parting to reveal unnaturally white teeth.
Why had April of all people discovered me working up the courage to try on the bikini? She had never liked me and I never knew why. Now that she’d graduated from Eldersby High, I was looking forward to my senior year without her.
She picked the bikini off the floor, and as she fingered the silky smooth material, my stomach clenched. I’d been admiring it in the display window covetously all spring, working out religiously on the cross-trainer, and not eating any white foods. April pinched her face so that it accentuated the “beauty mark” on her chin––I was sure it was a wart.
“You ought to be looking at cover-ups, Olivia. Not bikinis,” she said off-handedly. “Unless there’s too much of you to cover.”