Sunday, September 30, 2018

All I Ever Wanted, by David Neth (author), Drew Malone Nienhaus (narrator)

David Neth, 2018

Leo and his mother have faced some challenging times, struggling to make ends meet, since Leo's father left. With very little money, Leo is looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, when he finds a gravy boat in a local shop. It looks a lot like one of the family heirlooms they had to sell for money to get by on, and he hopes his mother will really like it.

It turns out to be a genie's lamp.

The genie, whose name is Felix, of course offers him three wishes. Well, not so much offers. He needs Leo to accept and use those three wishes.

Leo is a smart kid. He's watched enough movies and tv to know that genies' wishes almost always go wrong in some way that's obvious in retrospect, when you think carefully about what you really said. He'd rather skip the whole thing, but since he apparently can't, he wants to be really, really careful.

Leo is also a good kid, and greed isn't one of his values. His first wish is very carefully phrased. He wants to have enough money that he and his mother don't have to live paycheck to paycheck and she doesn't have to work crazy hours. Within half an hour of making that wish, his mother calls with the shocking news that his father, who had stolen the small but not trivial nest egg that was to be the basis of Leo's college savings, has called. It turns out he invested that money, and is now returning the resulting, much larger, nest egg to Leo.

This leads to Leo and his mother talking about his father for the first time in a long time, and his mother talking about how she misses her former husband, who used to be her best friend. In a careless moment, in Felix's hearing, Leo wishes that his father were back so that his mother could be happy again. And he uses the fatal word, "wish."

This is the point at which things start to go wrong.

Leo, and his best friend Genevieve, are good kids. His mother is a good person. So is Gen's mother. Everyone is trying to do the right thing. Leo and Gen don't always succeed, but they aren't acting out of greed or self-importance. They're trying to make those around them happier and better off--and they don't define "better off" in terms of "great wealth."

This is a very enjoyable novella, about young people that are likable, interesting, and whom it might be nice to meet. Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.