Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes takes a few U turns and by the time you reach the end, you will probably forget where you started. Denise Grover Swank has introduced a few diverse elements in a story that might qualify as a drama or a mystery, but one that left me wondering what it was long after I finished reading it.
Rose Gardner works at the DMV in a small southern town in rural Arkansas. Her life is drab enough, but is compounded by an overbearing mother who is border line abusive, or seems so to the reader. But things are not that simple with Rose. She has visions! ‘Not one of those’, I agonized, but convinced myself to plod on. Used to seeing petty things like overflowing toilets in her visions, Rose is shocked when she suddenly sees herself dead. But reality could not be more different.
Rose is almost held captive by her mother who keeps her on a tight leash. Her sister has luckily escaped by marrying her high school sweetie. But at 24, Rose finds it hard to squeeze a few hours for herself on Sunday. She finally explodes and has a big fight with her mother and stomps out of the house, only to come back and find her dead! Her mother has been murdered execution style and no one has a clue about what’s going on. Rose’s neighbor, a young out of towner, is suddenly very friendly. Facing the prospect of prison, Rose behaves uncharacteristically and comes up with a bucket list of things she wants to do. Readers get an idea of how pathetic her life has been with items such as ‘have a picnic’, ‘go to a park’ etc. on them.
As Rose works through her list, she also tries to track down who may have killed her mother, while trying to be on good terms with her well meaning sister. What exactly does the future have in store for Rose? Will her budding feelings for her neighbor see any fruition, or is he just taking advantage of her bad situation? Will she ever find out why her mother hated her so much?
As I said in the beginning of this review, this book is a constant roller coaster ride. We have an amateur psychic, a murder mystery, a budding romance, and a girl bent on getting through a bucket list when she should be mourning. Add some questions about the past, gun toting men, burglars, and an outraged older sister, and you have chaos. Or nonstop action that fills pages. It depends on how you look at it. Does the psychic angle add to the story? Or does the bucket list angle add to it? More and more, I see multiple themes crammed into a single book, possibly because the author wishes to please a wide cross section of people. I think your reaction will depend on what mood you are in when you pick up a book. sometimes, you fancy the buffet at Golden Corral. Other times, you might just want a simple sandwich.
Overall, Twenty Eight and A Half Wishes has multiple elements that are sure to please most people, and certainly keep them from being bored.
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