Friday, April 28, 2017

Review: Molly Bell and the Wishing Well by Bridget Geraghty

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Molly Bell is an eleven-year old girl who used to be a whimsical, sporty type of a child with a zest for living. All that has been turned upside down by the untimely death of her mother two years ago. To make matters worse, her father is getting remarried to a high-maintenance beauty that Molly seemingly has nothing in common with, and she comes with an annoying six-year old son, Henry, who finds a way to wreck everything in his path. Molly can't find anything about her new circumstances to be excited about, until her Aunt Joan tells her about the wishing well at Molly's grandparents' farm. According to Aunt Joan, every wish she ever made there came true. And it just so happens that Molly and Henry will be staying at the farm for a week while their parents are on their honeymoon. Molly is convinced if she could just find that wishing well, she could wish for her mom to come back to life and everything will be okay again. But Molly is in for a few surprises, and more than a few hard lessons about being careful what you wish for when the consequences of Molly's selfish desires wreak havoc on her entire family. Can Molly make things right again through the wishing well? Or will she need to find it within herself to bring back the joy in her life that has been missing all this time?

This book was magical. Not in the Harry Potter, Gandalf, Unicorns, kind of way, but in a much more real way. It's about the magic of love, and it's power to heal. It's about how a shift in point of view can change your whole life, and it's about letting kids who are struggling with loss know that they can find a way to be happy again. 

About 20 years ago I was one of those kids. My dad died when I was 1o, from cancer, like Molly's mom in the story, and though I didn't have that shift in perspective that Molly does in the story for many years, reading this book brought me back to that time. 

I loved the way the author wrote about Molly's feelings towards everything going on in her life. Her anger and sadness at her Dad for 'replacing' her mom, her dislike of her new step-mom, her complete indifference to Henry, her anger and disappointment in her friends for seemingly abandoning her when she needed them, and the complete, overwhelming grief for her mom. The part about Molly's friends really hit me because it was so true. When my dad died my friends seemed to disappear, no one at school would talk to me or even look me in the eye; most adults were the same way, murmuring meaningless words before shaking their heads and walking away. People don't know how to handle that kind of overwhelming grief, and that's why I think this is an important book for everyone to read. Having a better understanding of the feelings that go on when a child has lost someone can help them immeasurably, just to know that someone stills sees them the same way, and is still there and willing to sit next to them and look them in eye and say 'I'm here' when everyone else in their life seems to be avoiding them, is an amazing thing for a kid going through that kind of loss. 

The only criticism I'd have for the emotions portrayed in the book is that Molly's anger seemed really downplayed to me. In my experience the anger that comes with that kind of grief runs a lot deeper and is much harder to suppress than it seemed too for Molly. The author could have had a much different experience than I have with grief and everyone does process things differently so I can't say that her portrayal was wrong or bad in any way, though. 

I also loved Molly's Grandpa Cody, in fact he was probably the most emotional character in the story besides Molly.  Grandpa Cody letting go of his anger towards the wishing well was probably something that helped Molly let go of hers and including his PTSD from the war  made him a very real character. 

I loved this book. It's easily 5 out of 5 stars for me and I highly recommend it for everyone. 

Note: I received this as a free e-book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  You can pick it up on Amazon here

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