What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Katherine Center

I recently read “What You Wish For” by Katherine Center and enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with you.  I had not read any books by Katherine Center previously, but I will gladly read any of her books in the future.  The book was on a list of recommended summer reading in “Real Simple” magazine.

What You Wish For” is a modern romance novel.  Samantha Casey and Duncan Carpenter are the two main characters, although the novel is full of people just like people you know in everyday life.  The novel is narrated in first person by Sam, so we see everything through her eyes.  But the novel has so much dialogue that you feel like you know all the characters intimately.

Sam is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and the adults she works with.  But Sam doesn’t love herself.  She has epilepsy and, although she seizes the joy in each day, she thinks that the epilepsy means that no man will ever want to stay with her.  She fell in love with Duncan at a previous job but when he started dating someone else, Sam found a new job instead of facing the pain of seeing him every day.

But the sudden death of the school principal means that Sam is suddenly faced with seeing Duncan again.  Duncan is hired as the new school principal but he is no longer the joyful, free spirit that Sam remembers.  “What You Wish For” is the story of how Sam and Duncan reconnect and learn to trust each other and find joy in life.

The characters are slightly unrealistic.  Both are almost caricatures of a buttoned-up bureaucrat and the whimsical school teacher.  But the book explains why they are the way they are – sometimes in exhausting details.  I skimmed whole pages that went on and on about the same thing.  But “What You Wish For” has a lot to say about choosing to embrace joy in your life instead of living in fear.  Learning to let go instead of always having to be in control of things you can’t control.

The book has lots of great quotes and a lot to say about joy.  This one is my favorite:  “We made a choice to do joy on purpose. Not in spite of life’s sorrows. But because of them.”  This may not be the best romance novel you will ever read, but it is the antidote to a year that has been challenging and difficult.