The Boy Whose Wishes Came True
Archie Crumb is having a tough time. Picked-on at school, picked last for any team; his home has been sad and quiet since Dad left and his luck feels like its run out. But things start looking up when Archie bumps his head and literally sees stars: his favourite famous football player standing in front of him, granting him nine wishes. This is INCREDIBLE!
Unlimited ice cream, a whole day of eating pizza and playing on the X-Box, revenge on the bullies, becoming the star player in a televised football tournament: finally, all his dreams can come true! Will Archie wish his way to happiness? Or will he realise that magic wishes may be wonderful, but only he has the true power to change his life? Perfect for fans of Lisa Thompson, David Baddiel and Jacqueline Wilson. Funny, moving, inventive, uplifting children's fiction at its finest.
The Boy Whose Wishes Came True by Helen Rutter is her second middle grade novel. Her debut book 'The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh' was one of my books of the year last year. This new book could very possibly go on to be one of my books of the year this time as well.
The story is about a boy called Archie Crumb, he is a child that as a teacher I am sadly familiar with. He is a bit of a lost soul, he doesn't stand out much in school, he doesn't feel he is particularly good at anything and gets overlooked or disregarded by lots of the other children. He has no confidence in himself. His life at home is unhappy, something to which he hides from everyone.
Archie's parents split up and his dad started a new family. They now have another child, Scarlett, who Archie adores (he nicknames her Scadge which she loves but her mum does not). Archie's mum hasn't coped well with the breakup and is clearly suffering from depression. She has also recently lost her job and spends most of her time in bed. Archie has to fend for himself when he is at home. He visits his dad every other weekend but doesn't feel welcome and feels like he is getting in the way of their new life.
This whole situation is desperately sad and makes Archie's life seem horrible but he does have some support. It comes in the form of his friend Mouse and her family. She is his best friend and they look after each other. Mouse has a loving, caring family and they all do what they can to help Archie although they don't know the true extend of his difficulties. One of Archie's neighbours also looks out for him and worries about what is happening with his mum.
This all sounds a little depressing but strangely enough the book is actually quite life affirming and funny in places. Archie bumps his head and finds himself face to face with his idol: footballer Lucas Bailly who gives him 9 wishes. Archie isn't sure whether this is real or not but soon finds that what he wishes for starts to come true.
The story then follows Archie's adventures with his wishes as he finds out a lot about himself and learns to become more confident and trusting of the people that are trying to help him.
Archie is a very engaging character and my heart went out to him right from the first chapter. I was invested in his story immediately and wanted to see what would become of him, hoping all the way that he would come through his difficult times and find himself surrounded by the love of people who cared for him.
The story deals with sensitive issues including family break ups, neglect and mental health but it does so in a very skilful way that always feels appropriate to the intended audience of middle grade readers. I found myself laughing and crying in this story, it feels honest to the sorts of difficulties children actually face but also safely removed from realism by the inclusion of the wishes.
At it's heart this is a story about a boy who wants to be loved and cared for as every child deserves. It is a fantastic story, full of empathy. I can thoroughly recommend it for anyone aged 8 and above. I imagine any teachers reading the book will probably recognise children like Archie like I did and it may break their hearts as well, but hopefully also fill them with hope.
The book is out on 3rd February 2022, you can order a copy here: