Wish You Were Here

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Wish You Were Here Book Poster Image
Scattered, quirky summer vacation drama.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence
Sex

A couple of kisses and light making out.

Language
Consumerism

Ariel is obsessed with Skittles. Mentions of iPods, Hotmail, Sprite, Adidas, Xena: Warrior Princess, Little Mermaid, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there isn't much to be concerned about in this book. The family featured deals with a divorce and repercussions from a father's addiction to gambling.

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What's the story?

Ariel has to spend the next two weeks with her family, well most of her family: her sister, her mother the therapist, her grandparents, and her uncle who's afraid of squirrels. She knows they're mainly going on the trip to get away from her dad who has gambled away everything -- their house, life savings, and college fund. He even embezzled money from his job, which helped the family become outcasts in their small town. Ariel has no idea where they're going, but maybe the twists and turns of the road will help her sort out the twists and turns of her life.

Is it any good?

The quirky characters and funny postcards are the best parts of this book. Unfortunately, WISH YOU WERE HERE doesn't give enough for us to care about. The plot and events of the novel are as directionless as the trip Ariel and her family take. Readers will find themselves meandering along wondering not only where the bus tour is headed, but where the book is headed. Unfortunately, the story never really arrives anywhere.

Perhaps the author was trying to evoke the randomly funny, yet poignant stories of films like Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine, however it just doesn't translate in this book. One good thing the author does is highlight, if briefly, the issue of gambling addiction and the importance of quality time with family, especially when you're going through tough times.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of spending quality time together. What are the benefits? How did Ariel and her family change while on the road? What do you like most about hanging out with your family?

Book details

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