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Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl

Check out my interview with Elisabeth Dahl and enter to win a copy of Genie Wishes. Also be sure to check out the full March MG Madness schedule and big giveaway here.

Genie Wishes
by Elisabeth Dahl
Format: ARC
Source: from pub
This sweet, funny novel follows fifth-grader Genie Kunkle through a tumultuous year. From the first day of school, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She’s in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah’s friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie’s place as Sarah’s BFF. The in-between? Genie is excited to be elected to write her class’s blog, where she’s tasked with tracking the wishes and dreams of her class. But expressing her opinion in public can be scary—especially when her opinion might make the rest of her class upset.Elisabeth Dahl authentically captures the ups and downs of a tween girl’s life, and the dramas—both little and big—that fill the scary transition between childhood and adolescence.

Watch the Genie Wishes trailer

I adored Elisabeth Dahl's Genie Wishes. This funny, sweet, authentic, and often surprisingly poignant novel, captured my heart in ways that I didn't expect.

Genie starts her fifth-grade year excited to spend it with her BFF Sarah who is in her homeroom class. Genie is elected by her peers to be the fifth-grade class blogger and must write a blog post every week or so that deals with the theme of “wishes, hopes, and dreams”. Genie, whose blogger name is Genie Wishes, finds it difficult to blog at first, but quickly finds her voice. But when new girl Blair starts to come between Genie and Sarah, her fifth-grade year gets a lot more complicated. Genie soon finds herself navigating the tween world of boy-crazy girls, bras, deodorant, periods, bra-snapping boys, and dealing with a moody big brother and widower dad with a new girlfriend. Genie's last year of elementary school surprises her in more ways than one.

Elisabeth Dahl is a fantastic and bold new voice in middle-grade fiction. She has spun a wonderful story full of laughs, heart, coming of age moments, and endearing characters. Genie Wishes is a story that I didn't expect to love so much and I am so glad that I read it.

Dahl writes with a genuine and authentic voice. She has captured the mindset and attitude of a tween girl caught between childhood and growing up perfectly. Genie Wishes is almost 300 pages long, but I quickly devoured it in one sitting, unable to set it down for a second. What I love so much about this story is just how realistic and authentic it feels. Dahl isn't afraid to explore the hard things- from “That” class (sex ed) to a widower parent dating again, to mean girls, to a tween's changing body- and explore them realistically while still keeping her story appropriate for her intended audience. And Dahl brings so much wonderful heart and humor to these subjects as well.

Genie is a superb character and I just adored everything about her. She's delightfully endearing, thoughtful, smart, brave, and easy to root for. Plus, she's a blogger, which is just too awesome! Genie is the type of character that always feels real, relatable, and likable. Dahl has really created something very special with Genie and given young readers, especially tween girls, a voice and character to connect with and believe in. The whole cast of characters really shine, from Genie's quirky family to her old and new friends and even to the mean girls.

This story, while appropriate for its intended audience, isn't sappy or cheesy and doesn't end all nicely wrapped up, which I really appreciated. It's real, it explores real issues and has a real voice, which isn't always easy to find in MG or YA. But it's also very charming, sweet, and heartwarming.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Elisabeth Dahl's debut book is a sparkling gem! Genie Wishes will amuse, move, and entertain readers of all ages with its relatable story, charming characters, and dazzling writing.


Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository

Elisabeth Dahl
GENIE WISHES, a middle-grade novel with line drawings, is Elisabeth Dahl's first book (forthcoming from Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, in April 2013). She has just completed her second book, a novel for adults. Her writing has appeared at, at, and at Baltimore Fishbowl. Elisabeth holds a bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master's degree from Georgetown University, where she was a Writing Center Associate Fellow. She now lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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