Title: Better to Wish
Author: Ann M. Martin
Series: Family Tree, Book 1
Hardcover: 226 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
In 1930, Abby Nichols is eight, and can’t imagine what her future holds. The best things today would be having a dime for the fair, keeping her Pops from being angry, and saving up eighty-seven cents to surprise her little sister with a tea set for Christmas.
But Abby’s world is changing fast. Soon there will be new siblings to take care of, a new house to move into, and new friends to meet. But there will also be good-byes to say and hard choices to make. As Abby grows older, how will she decide what sort of life will fit her best?
In this incredible new series, bestselling author Ann M. Martin brings the past and the present together one girlhood at a time and shows readers the way a family grows.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
This is an incredibly cute historical fiction about a girl growing up in the 1930s and facing the challenges that life brings. While it has a strong optimistic, hopeful streak, it doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of what life was like during this era: illness, poverty, etc. The novel follows Abby’s life from a young child to a burgeoning adult, giving a comprehensive look at her coming of age and allowing the reader to become good friends with her.
The fact that Ann M. Martin draws from her personal family history and includes tidbits about her grandmother’s life really adds to the story — it gives it a Laura Ingalls feel in that seems so real and true to the time period. Her strength anyway is creating such loveable, wonderful characters that you just immediately relate to, and that holds true with this series.
The story itself is told in brief intervals, hitting on important moments in Abby’s life, and then moving forward in time to hit on other important moments in the future. Because of this, the story doesn’t drag, even though it’s told as sort of a quiet reflection and has very little action. The pacing is actually quite perfect; I felt like I got just enough of everything and was sufficiently connected to the characters and motivated to read more.
I picked this up because I was interested to see how Ann M. Martin’s writing would be outside of the Babysitter’s Club books, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. My verdict is that it’s just as readable and has just as amazing characters to love. I highly recommend this for Martin fans and for younger readers who might have an interest in historical fiction. Definitely pick it up if your children are American Girl or Laura Ingalls fans — it’s right up that alley.