Kate Messner is an author who is producing books quickly and supporting writers, especially teachers who write. She is one busy lady.
You might know her from the summer blog group Teachers Write. Here she and a wonderful group of writers share prompts to write from, tips on writing and publishing and quick edits on teachers writing on Fridays. It is a great summer experience if you are a want a be writer or just want to practice writing to be a better writing teacher.
Last night I finished her most recent book The Seventh Wish. It is a book geared for middle school kids (5-8) although the message would be great for older readers as well.
Kate starts by settling us deep in the life of Charlie, the younger sister, who feels a bit forgotten. The needs of an older sister heading off to college, a sister who has struggled with a few health issues and a sister who is popular can sometimes take over a family. So Charlie is not happy as her family continues to need to support her sister leaving her to work things out on her own. She is not happy about the fact that she must miss important events in her own life because of her sister.
Charlie is looking for a bit of magic that might bring more balance back into the family. When she thinks she has found it while ice fishing she learns that magic is not always what you think it is.
Kate does a great job of holding that thin line between magic and reality. Is there really magic going on here (is Charlie really talking to a fish and getting wishes granted) or are the events just positive things happening for the people around her?
Layered within Charlie’s day to day life with school projects, dancing and ice fishing is a deeper issue of peer pressure and drugs. It is not Charlie but her sister who turns to “friends” to help her through the hard transition of college. These friends open a path to drugs and it quickly turns to heroin.
This topic is a hot one and an important one. There are more and more families who are struggling with this problem. Kate helps students come to understand what addiction really means. We see the issues and problems through Charlie’s eyes so the darker side of heroin addition is not over whelming but clearly stated. Addiction is not just found with “those people” as shown in the school health movie class about use drugs. A person who becomes addicted to drugs could be someone’s mother, the counselor helping people, the college student at the pizza shop or your own sister.
The book for me started slow and I was not sure if I would finish it but decided to hang in there since I had heard good things. It was worth staying with it. She pulls it all together very nicely in the end. It is a well crafted story.
It is a story that I think would be great to read along with a personal health unit or the drug unit. It is a good one to be discussed and to have a social worker or health worker share in the class discussion on the book. This could give a more person touch to a unit of drugs and the hazards of addiction.