Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Point; 1 edition
Source: Bought at Borders
Cover: This cover is beautiful. I picked up this book purely because I loved the cover. I've been a sucker for the whole "wish upon a star" and this cover demonstrates perfectly.Everything from the deep blue night sky to the way the girl is slightly angled to us, clutching an invisible dress is beautiful. She's not exactly like the book describes the main character but there's not enough of a difference to really matter. I also love the font with the echo of the shooting star over the "i".
First Sentence: "You must be Olivia."
The Mini-review: I wanted to wish upon a star and be in love with this novel. Sadly, it didn't happen for me. It was okay but not one of my favorites.
The Book Blurb on the Cover Jacket:
For brokenhearted Olivia Larsen nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical-- it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.
With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-- to more wishes left/ But the magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love and live again.
I don't think I knew what I was expecting with this novel. Knowing it was about a girl who just lost her sister, I think I expected a much sadder plot. This was actually a pretty light novel considering the subject matter and I think I was hopping for a little more depth. I wanted not to be able to guess the plot, I wanted to like Olivia and I wanted to feel a connection with her.
The novel started out pretty slow, not really picking up until the sixth chapter when Olivia finally got her first wish. I knew it'd be for her sister and I never stopped guessing right from then on. I liked that her sister came back as a ghost, I wasn't sure how that was going to play out. It made for some interest in Olivia's otherwise lackluster life because her sister was one of the most lively characters in the book for being the only dead girl.
I had a really hard time connecting with Olivia. Again, part of it is a preference thing. This novel was written in third person and I'd wanted to be closer to Olivia to really truly feel her lose. Of course, even in first person this would be impossible considering she doesn't feel it either. That makes for a hard character to sympathize with and by the time she does finally realize she misses her sister, it's too little too late for me. Also, as the novel kept going I got progressively madder at her because she's smart but she kept doing the wrong thing.
An example of this is that her first wish is for her sister to be there and her second wish (which comes at the very end of the novel) is to wish her away in a moment of anger. But she didn't really mean it.
But she did.
I realize that her sister's ghost had to be set free so Olivia could finally start living her own life and be released of the hold that her sister had on her but I really didn't like how she did it. I think it would have been much more powerful to have Olivia wish her sister away at the end as a final goodbye. I still think I would have guessed this ending but it would have been far more satsifying. As the ending stands, it feels like Olivia goes kicking and screaming into changing and makes a bunch of really stupid mistakes that she refuses to acknowledge. I think I would have liked to see her act a little more graceful under the pressure and would have felt better about it.
Another example is how she handles her life. She tries juggling being a couple with Soren who just broke up with Calla and being BFFs with Calla who is still heartbroken over Soren. Instead of being honest up front with Calla, who Olivia actually really cares about, she decides to sneak around behind her back. Numerous times she tries to tell Calla but never actually gets it out. She knew people would find out but she can never find a convenient time to just be honest.
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There were a lot of things I liked about this novel. One of the biggest was the descriptions of San Francisco. The author did an amazing job of including the city's landscape in the novel, making for some beautiful scenery. I loved visiting the farmer's market, getting wide views of the ocean on their family's boat and seeing the city from Coit Tower's highest point.
Another thing I enjoyed was the budding relationship between Olivia and Soren. It was a little bit unrealistic at how fast they fell but I enjoyed watching it anyway. Soren was a great character, passionate about skating and drums, and was really thoughtful. Bullen's writing really shines when describing love:
"As soon as Soren wrapped her hand in his own, his long thumb overlapping hers, the creases of bone and skin interlocking like soft pieces of a puzzle, Olivia could tell. It was a perfect fit" (Pg. 189).
I also really liked how the off-the-wall hippie kids were the popular ones at Olivia's new school. The main popular girl Calla was actually really nice and cared about things that mattered. There wasn't the usual mean girl act and we didn't see a lot of bullying (except from a teacher of all people). Calla drew me and I wanted to know more about her life, her friends and the way she sees the world. This is a good thing but not if I'm more interested in her than the character I'm following.
Overall, this isn't a bad read. It's sort of like a rom-com. I went in and within the first 100 pages knew where the plot was going and how the character would grow from her experiences. It was a lighthearted, easy read and had I gone in knowing that, I probably would have gotten a little bit more enjoyment out of the novel.