Annie Nutter accidentally gets zapped by her dad’s latest invention and ends up in a parallel universe where her life is totally different: suddenly she’s hot, popular, and super-rich. As Ayla Monroe, she has the same mother but a different father, and instead of living in Pittsburgh, she finds herself in Miami. Her new glamorous life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be until she meets the quiet Charlie, who offers her friendship and a chance to escape back to her old life.
The epitome of frothy, sometimes silly fun, Roxanne St. Claire’s Don’t You Wish is a quick read that is surprisingly entertaining. Another spin on the alternate-life trope, St. Claire manages to breathe some fresh air into it by creating some fairly vivid secondary characters and a heroine who is, for the most part, pretty likable. As Annie/Ayla struggles to reconcile her new life with her old one, she also struggles with who she is as a person despite the fact that she looks different. (Reviewer’s note: The blatant focus on looks made me uncomfortable while reading this, and that rarely happens with a book.)
There’s some depth here, but the book’s clunkiest moments are when it gets too message-heavy. Unpredictable it’s not, though: savvy readers will see every plot twist and turn coming from a mile away.
That’s not really the point with books like this, though, and readers willing to suspend disbelief (which one has to do with a premise like this, anyway) are likely to be swept away with this one. Entertaining, sweet, and hinting at the complicated relationships between friends, mothers and daughters, and families in general, St. Claire certainly could have done a lot worse.
Don’t You Wish has already had its movie rights optioned. The book comes out today. Recommended to fans of lighter YA fiction with a twist of the magical.
Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire. Delacorte: 2012. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.