The Seventh Wish
By Kate Messner
I picked up a book recently because of the controversy. The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner. The author’s visit to a public school was cancelled the night before her appearance.
I didn’t know much about the book. All my information was based on Tweets, and there is, generally, not a lot of information in Tweets. I read it was about a magic fish that could grant wishes but that it also contained references to drug use. So before I did anything else, I ordered the book. I would rather see with my own eyes rather than just make an opinion without firsthand knowledge.
It is about a fish that can grant wishes, and it does have drug use in it — heroin addiction to be exact. But those two short ideas can’t possibly give you the full story.
Charlie is a pretty normal kid. She goes to school and Irish dance classes (her sport). She hangs with her friends. She misses her sister who is away at her first year of college. Her sister is her hero.
The family and friends are warm. People that are kind and caring.
The chance for change comes when Charlie is ice fishing and catches a fish which will grant her a wish if she releases it. So she does, reluctantly.
But a bigger change is coming. Her adored older sister has started using heroin in college.
We see that it isn’t always like those stay-away-from-drugs videos they show at school. That abusers might be adored older sisters who are smart, funny, great students, good athletes, and more.
We see how it affects family.
All is told with empathy and caring. It puts a human face on a difficult issue. And having a story like this; a story dressed as fantasy would allow kids to work through things on their own. This is the kind of book I’d want for my kids.
So after I read it, I did go back and look online at the excuse the school gave. They said it was because they hadn’t really known what the book was about and didn’t feel they had given parents adequate warning, nor had they had time to set up something for the questions the book was sure to generate. (the story is online for you to decide. http://www.sevendaysvt.com/LiveCulture/archives/2016/06/10/south-burlington-school-censors-book-about-opiate-addiction)
Now, I know that every book is not for every kid or family, But maybe instead of canceling the talk, a permission slip could have been sent home. (That’s something we do at my school when there is subject matter that might be seen as controversial)
I’m sorry that the students didn’t have the opportunity to read this book or meet with Messner. This is a well-told tale where the characters and their reactions are very human, and books like this would help children understand that the dangers of drugs are very real and can be very close to home.
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