The Wishing Game

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Mr. Lemoncello's Library with a grownup twist in Meg Shaffer's whimsical, wistful first novel, The Wishing Game.

Lucy's only wish in life is to adopt Christopher, an orphaned seven-year-old stuck in the foster system. Her meager teacher's-aide pay and multiple-roommate living situation disqualify her as a potential mom. Her dream gets a surprise second chance when she receives an invitation to the remote island home of reclusive mega-bestselling children's author Jack Masterson, who hasn't released a new book in years. Masterson has at last written a new book in his wildly popular, long-running children's series Clock Island, and he's holding a competition for ownership of the single existing copy. If Lucy wins, she can sell the book for enough money to start a new life with Christopher.

In Masterson's quirky Victorian mansion on the real Clock Island, off the coast of Maine, Lucy will pit her riddle-solving skills and lifelong fan's knowledge of Clock Island against competitors who share a special commonality with her: each of them ran away to Clock Island as children. Shaffer tenderly portrays lost souls finding each other in this feel-good story that will ignite nostalgia for those most-loved reads from childhood. Lucy's steadfast yearning to give a bereft boy the love and attention her parents never gave her is a solid, complex emotional anchor for the fairy-tale concept. Anyone who has ever dreamed of escaping into the world of a book should find resonance here, not to mention an affirmation of their inner child. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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