Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
This is my least favorite Center book. I don't think she did a good job setting up our main character, Samantha Casey. Also, I didn't really like her (sorry, not sorry). I thought she was way too entwined with the founders of her school and her justification for trying to elbow their daughter out of things was a bit...yeah. And I thought her "romance" with the new principal was nothing but fizzle. It didn't work and the whole be joyful thing started to make me roll my eyes. I don't know what happened while reading this, I just started to get more and more annoyed and the centering around school shootings felt glib? I don't know, it just didn't work.
"What You Wish For" follows librarian Samantha Casey. Samantha is happy at her job working as an elementary school librarian in Galveston, Texas. When the school's founder dies, the board elects a new principal, Duncan Carpenter who Samantha used to know from another school and who she had a crush on. Duncan though is not like the man she used to know. He's unsmiling and focused on upgrading the school in event of active shooters. Samantha and others though are planning on making Duncan remember how to be joyful again.
That sounds like something from the Hallmark movie channel. And I say this as someone that loves the Hallmark movie channel. It was just too much. Samantha and her whole be happy and bright thing was aggravating. We get some insight into her past, but eh. I don't know, I just didn't like her. She was too focused on everyone else and on the former principal's widow and how she was grieving.
Not too much to say about Duncan. He is bland as bland can be. I don't think he and Samantha made any sense as a couple. Center doesn't set them up to even get along for the majority of the book and I don't get why either one of them were attracted to each other.
The other characters are not developed at all. I can't even remember Samantha's best friend's name and the only thing I recall is that she is into math and wore math pun shirts.
The founder's daughter, Tina, doesn't like Samantha and honestly I got why. She was trying to push her out of her own life. I wish that someone had pointed that out to her. It was a bit creepy and I recall one of my friends telling a story of how a friend of her sister's was always going on about how their mom was her second mom. She just felt offended by the whole thing.
The writing didn't work for me and the flow of the book was pretty bad. It just stops and starts. Probably because we follow Samantha's POV throughout the book and Center jumps back and forth a lot.
The ending was just...nope. I got nothing. It didn't work for me even a little. I think another reviewer said this was a book about nothing and honestly it read that way to me a little. Maybe if Center had actually focused on grieving and realizing that Tina is grieving her father's death. Samantha being judgey towards her through the whole book was not even a little bit cute. Or if Center had actually shown that school shootings in the US are serious and have a lot of repercussions to how we teach kids nowadays. Center seemed to stay away from that whole thing. Not that a school should be a prison and not a place for learning, but what are educators supposed to do when it comes to safety? Just saying be joyful and in the moment is up there with thoughts and prayers with me.