Book Review: What You Wish For by Katherine Center (ARC)

What You Wish For

Author: Katherine Center

Publication Date: 14 July 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Contemporary Romance

Pages: 320

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

From Katherine Center, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel full of heart and hope.

Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of What You Wish For ever since I finished savoring the last few pages of Things You Save in a Fire, but this book was such a disappointment for me.

Samantha Casey loves everything her life has become in Galveston, Texas. She’s a cherished elementary school librarian. Sam rents the carriage house that is on the property of Max, the principal of her school, and Babette who also works at the school. Sam’s world crumbles beneath her when Max suddenly dies.

Duncan Carpenter is the man that Sam had a huge crush on at her previous school but never made him aware. When word gets out that Duncan is the new principal, Sam is giddy with excitement especially since he will be the perfect man for their esteemed elementary school since he is essentially a ball of laughs.

When Duncan arrives at the school, it is clear that something has changed. Duncan takes a militaristic approach to running the school with safety as his number one priority. Sam is determined to keep the things she loves at the school in tact while also trying to understand what happened to Duncan.

So my first gripe with this book is the immaturity of Sam’s character. Sam is a woman in her late twenties, but in all honesty, does not act like it. She literally packed up and left a school district because of an unrequited crush that Duncan was completely unaware of. I understand teenagers making those sorts of rash decisions due to hormones, but why would a person in their twenties up and leave a situation because of a crush?! That makes absolutely no sense.

I will commend the author for trying to tackle a controversial topic, but I found the execution poor. Duncan survived a school shooting, which is why he is hellbent on security taking priority over other activities at the school. However, Sam makes it her personal crusade to find a way to get Duncan to be the person that he used to be: fun-loving, humorous, easy-going. My issue with this is that when someone is suffering from PTSD, constantly reminding them that their personality was different before said event is honestly just tasteless and naive. As someone who was raised by a person who suffers from PTSD, people don’t just snap back to their previous personality because it’s affecting other people, so I found the entire basis for their relationship unrealistic.

Overall, I had high hopes for this book but it definitely missed the mark with the over the top characters and unrealistic scenarios.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.


  1. This is disappointing to hear. After having heard glowing reviews about “Things You Save in a Fire”, I was expecting it to be good. Hopefully her next book will be better. Good review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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