As someone who just started reading fiction this year, has an ever-growing TBR (to-be-read) list, not enough time to read them all and is horribly indecisive about what to read next, I like to use book curation services like Book of the Month or recommendations from friends. You can come across some real literary gems this way.
Recently, I have come across “The Wishing Game” by Meg Shaffer. The main themes of this book are found family, dealing with family trauma and a love of books and reading.
The book’s main character is Lucy Hart, a 25-year-old teacher aide in California. Growing up, Lucy was obsessed with “The Clock Island” book series by the reclusive and eccentric author Jack Masterson. It helped her escape her grim reality, where she was unloved and unwanted by her parents and her sister. She lived with her grandparents until they passed, and then she had to survive on her own.
One day, Lucy wrote to Jack about how she was unwanted and unloved by her parents and all her troubles. He wrote back saying that her parents do not know what an intelligent girl they have and that he would do a way better job if he were her father. After that, Lucy, at 13 years old, runs away from home and appears on Jack’s doorstep. Surprised, Jack invites Lucy in and keeps her company while he calls the cops to take her back home.
Thirteen years later, at her job as a teacher’s aide, Lucy meets a kid named Christopher, who lost his parents to a painkiller overdose. His foster parents are too busy with orphan newborns to pay attention to him. Both Lucy and Christopher love reading and the Clock Island Books. Lucy sees much of herself in Christopher and wants to be his mother.
It has also been six years since Masterson has not written a word. During those six, he regularly drinks himself into a stupor and loses his will to do anything. Then, out of nowhere, he starts writing again. He holds a contest on his private island aptly named Clock Island, where the winner will be granted the latest installment of the Clock Island Book Series, the only existing copy. The winner can do whatever they please with the book. Lucy is one of the four chosen contestants. She wants the book to make enough money to rent a nice apartment and get a car so she can adopt Christoper.
I like how Shaffer includes riddles in this book when Masterson speaks because he is one of those eccentric authors who loves riddles and makes people ponder his writing and life.
I enjoyed the world-building that goes on in this book. Shaffer tried her best to flesh out the world of “The Clock Island Books,” even though it was a book within a book. “The Clock Island Books” were so important to so many main characters that I am glad Shaffer did a great job building the world for “The Clock Island Books.” It was a great idea to have Lucy explore the actual Clock Island to paint a picture of the world in the books through the eyes of someone who loves the books and the world the book takes place in.
There are many more things I can go on about regarding this book. Still, it is best if you read it yourself because me trying to explain it through this article will not do the story justice. The characters in this book are imperfect. Everyone from Masterson, the best-selling multi-millionaire author, to Christopher, has been through their fair share of trials, and they all have their own wishes they want to come true. This contest gives them a chance to realize their wish.
This stands at two hundred and eighty pages cover to cover, but do not let that intimidate you from reading this book or any other book this size or bigger. All you have to do is read one page at a time and enjoy the book. You will finish it when you finish.