As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
Viola has been feeling terribly alone and out of place ever since her best friend and boyfriend told her he was gay, and broke up with her. She desperately wishes to understand the elusive formula to belonging, to feeling like part of the group--and that's when Jinn shows up. Viola has made a true wish, and now Jinn is bound to her until she makes three wishes.
At first, Jinn is desperate for Viola to make her wishes so he can return home to his perfect jinn world. But Viola, scared of wishing for the wrong thing, is hesitant to make any wish at all. As Jinn and Viola spend more time together, they begin to realize that maybe they have what they need without wishing, after all. But Jinn is still bound to grant wishes, and still bound to disappear from Viola's life forever once they're made...
This book is an interesting case study in packaging. I ordered this book from the library after it got nominated for the Cybils, but when it came, I frankly wasn't that interested in it. The cover wasn't appealing to me at all. But now that I've read it, suddenly, the cover works perfectly. It's simple, it's sassy, it's a little bit innocent--just like Viola. I wonder what that says about the cover? It would never have made me pick it up, but having read it, I love it.
As for the book itself, it's a quick, fun read. What I loved about is was the friendship relationships--the friendship of Viola and Jinn (which, if you've read just about any teen novel before, you can predict where that's going), Viola and Lawrence, and most of all, Lawrence and Jinn. What other girly teen novel can you think of with a strong, noncompetitive friendship between two guys? It's unusual, and very satisfying, and I kind of love it.
I also like that Viola isn't a total social reject--for all her complaints about being Invisible Girl, even before she wishes, she's still friendly with the (as she calls them) Royal Family of her high school. They know who she is. They're friendly to her. They talk to her. Viola isn't a nerd catapulted to popularity (though lord knows I've got nothing against nerds!) She's just somewhere in the middle, somewhere average, which makes her extremely relatable.
I would have liked for some of the peripheral characters to be developed better, like Aaron and Ollie, and some of the rest of the Royal Family, who sort of get shunted off to being totally superficial and fake. But that aside, this is a fun, fast romantic read.