(Original review posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/36031.html)Why I Read It:
So this section here will be a disclaimer because I actually read an ARC of this. As I've mentioned many times on this blog I work at a bookstore. For the past two years every October representatives from Random House Canada come to the store to do a presentation on their new books coming out throughout the fall. And because they're pretty cool people, they take down our names, we tell them what genre we like, and they send us ARCs that usually fall within said genre. I received this particular ARC awhile ago, but the by the time I got it the book was already out, so I didn't feel obligated to read and review it for buzz. ALSO, I didn't feel obligated to read and review this sooner because I didn't receive this book because I'm a book blogger (therefore, Random House was not EXPECTING a review) -- they just send us these books in the hopes that we potentially read and recommend them to customers.
ANYWAY! This book actually peaked my interest. I like middle-grade fiction from time to time and this one sounded cute and potentially fun.
So I thought this was going to be a fun light read with a little magic sprinkled on top for good measure. Yes, I knew there was going to be shenanigans of some kind -- a magic breadbox in the hands of a 12-year old spells trouble to me -- but I thought it would be the mostly harmless kind. That is NOT what I got with this book. BUT I still enjoyed it considerably, even if it wasn't what I was expecting at all.
Poor Rebecca is having a bit of a hard time: her mother has left her father and brought her and her little brother to another state to stay with their grandmother. Rebecca is obviously mad and lonely (she has to go to a new school) and she misses her dad like crazy and can't believe her mom would do this to her and her father. Guys, I don't know what it is lately but it feels like everything I read is SO SAD. This book didn't move me to tears, but I did feel incredibly sorry for Rebecca. Divorce is hard to deal with (and it's something that's dealt with fairly commonly in middle-grade and young adult fiction) but just being hoisted out of the state without any forewarning? That is BRUTAL. So yeah, Rebecca acts kind of like a brat, but can you BLAME her?
The breadbox was a pretty transparent plot-device, but it had impact nonetheless. The breadbox is obviously a means for Rebecca to try to fill in the void that's formed in her after abruptly leaving her father and her home. She wishes for things from home like candies that can only be found in her home state, or food from a specific restaurant in her home town that she loved. Then she starts wishing for money to spend on people at school to be popular, and a few wishes finally throws things into disarray (which I won't reveal because of spoilers). There's a revelation near the end of the book regarding one of Rebecca's wishes that was actually quite shocking, and I was slightly surprised that the book Went There.
My favourite parts of the book were the ones where Rebecca spends time with her two-year old brother. Those scenes were so cute and watching Rebecca use the breadbox for her brother's sake and not just her own was cute.
Finally, I really appreciated that the book didn't end on a perfect note. Rebecca has made a lot of growth by the end of the novel so it's an ending she can accept, but it's not rainbows and sunshine either which I think is Snyder showing respect to her targeted audience. And the fate of the breadbox? Snyder doesn't take the predictable route with that either.Final Verdict:
While this book wasn't the light and fluffy fanfare that I thought it was going to be, I still enjoyed it considerably. Rebecca faces very real and very difficult problems and while she acts like a bit of a brat because of it, I still felt a bucket-load of sympathy for her because her reactions felt completely authentic for someone in such a crappy situation. The plot-device of the breadbox was fairly transparent, but it didn't feel corny and added a dash of magic to the novel (without it ever really feeling like fantasy). It was all unexpected and I was pleasantly surprised. Mildly recommended if you're looking for something a little more on the serious side of of the Middle Grade spectrum.