I have been waiting to read this book for a while as I had read many tweets about the book and then heard about the school that disinvited Kate at the last minute over the controversy with the subject area. Here's Kate's blog post about that incident.
This is a great book. It is perfectly written at the fifth grade and up reading level and with guidance and discussion this would be an excellent book group book or read aloud. Kids will totally relate to Charlie--her desire to move up to the next level in Irish dance, her crush and the "wished" crush that crushes on her, the attention given to her older sister and the need for attention herself.
There are clues early on about older sister, Abby's addiction that I as an adult figured out but I'm not sure a young person would. And that's ok. The story is from the point of view of a middle schooler, not an adult. Let the readers follow Charlie's journey as Charlie, not as a parent.
The magical fish who grant's Charlie her wishes feels so real that I don't even know if I can call the book "magical realism". It is so sweet of Charlie to make selfless wishes for friends and family however sometimes they don't always turn out exactly the way Charlie wished, leading to funny, sad and unpredictable consequences.
I love the game Charlie's family plays--"guess what word I am thinking of." One family member thinks of a word and whoever guesses the closest to the word, wins. Guess what word I am thinking of now? Did you say "sundae"? No? "Winner"? No? Well, you should have because either way this book is a winner and now my sundae calls...