Review of What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What You Wish For is on sale today! This is one of my favorite books of the year, a true delight to read.

Posted April 16, 2020. As I mentioned in a recent review, it’s been tough to concentrate on reading lately. I’ve started and stopped a few books, finally deciding that I needed to treat myself to a book I knew I’d love. So I began What You Wish For by Katherine Center. I wasn’t disappointed. 💖

What You Wish For

Katherine Center

July 14, 2020

St. Martin’s Press

Blurb: Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before―at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him―but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school―and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love―which is the riskiest move of all.

With Katherine Center’s sparkling dialogue, unforgettable characters, heart, hope, and humanity, What You Wish For is the author at her most compelling best.

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Katherine Center is easily one of my favorite current writers. There’s something about her writing that invites me in, keeps my attention, and lulls me.

She has this knack of creating characters that I care about. In What You Wish For there were so many I cared about beyond the main ones of Sam and Duncan. The secondary characters are nuanced and memorable.

Truly though, I loved Sam and Duncan. Sam comes across as a free-spirit, wearing bright colors, crazy socks, fun dyed hair, but she wasn’t always that way, certainly not when she first knew Duncan, the one she loved four years earlier. As Duncan returns to her life, it’s obvious that he’s changed as well. And for her, not in a good way. What happened to the fun Duncan? The one everyone loved? It’s very easy for her not to love the new Duncan.

Despite the fact that Max, who has been like a father to Sam since her move to Galveston Island, is only alive for one scene at the beginning of the book, he is a guiding force, his is the philosophy that people live by. Choosing joy. Although it’s never said, choosing joy is like faking it until you make it. You dress in brightly flowered hat, which not only makes you smile but makes the ones around you smile too. Joy building on joy.

Although I smiled a lot while reading What You Wish For, I also cried and just felt– a lot. Center’s superpower is making the reader feel but not in a heavy handed way. She’s super gifted at this.

While the theme is certainly “joy,” it’s also the power of love, getting up each day even when it’s hard, taking risks, humanity, environmental conservation, friendship, trust, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and asking for help.

Like all good books, I wanted to speed read through this one and yet wanted to linger over it. My self-control was not abundant so I almost finished it in an evening. There are very few fictional worlds that I would ever want to be a part of, but this one? Oh, yeah. The smiles and the feels. They’re still with me.

If you are a reader of women’s fiction, I very highly recommend What You Wish For.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



5 out of 5 butterflies

Other books I’ve reviewed written by Katherine Center:

How to Walk Away

Things You Save in the Fire

4 thoughts on “Review of What You Wish For by Katherine Center

  1. Wonderful review!! I really enjoyed it, especially Sam, loved how joyful she was. But How to Walk Away is still my most favorite book by her 😀

    1. I have loved the three books of hers I’ve read. There’s something, that old je ne sais quois, about her writing that I wish I could put my finger on that is just so appealing to me. I’d probably imitate it if I could figure out what it was. 🙂 Thank you!

      1. She has a certain style. And the way she wrote How to Walk Away, the scenes in the hospital, I FELT them – it was incredible!!

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