What You Wish For

Katherine Center

This is the third Katherine Center book I have read. While I am not big on romance, I enjoy her books as they really focus on the protagonist and their personal growth. They are not simply about the romantic relationship, which I find refreshing. When I saw that Center recently published a new book, I knew that I would read it. 

Quick Synopsis

What You Wish For tells the story of elementary school librarian Sam who loves her school, her community, and her life. When tragedy strikes, a new principal takes over the school and runs it in a very different direction. That new principal just happens to be Sam’s old crush, who she remembers as starkly different.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before―at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him―but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school―and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love―which is the riskiest move of all.

With Katherine Center’s sparkling dialogue, unforgettable characters, heart, hope, and humanity, What You Wish For is the author at her most compelling best.

Book Review

Of the three books by Katherine Center I have read, this was my least favorite. That is not to say that I did not like it. I did enjoy it, but I expected more.

Center’s protagonists usually face some kind of obstacle. In What You Wish For, Sam has epilepsy, and the way it is treated in this book is extremely overblown. As someone with a chronic disease, I understand what it is like to live with it, the stigma you face, and feeling like a burden on your loved ones. But this was out of proportion and really felt like Sam was defined by her epilepsy for the sake of the plot. 

For me, What You Wish For was not all that much romance. It definitely did not conjure any butterflies or warm fuzzies for me. It was more focused on the love of a community and friendship. Still, I liked the story and the main characters. I thought the story dealt with grief and trauma well, although there could have been a bit more discussion of these topics. The book was well-paced and the writing easy to read and enjoy.

Overall, I liked What You Wish For and will still be picking up Center’s novels. But I would recommend Things You Save in a Fire and How to Walk Away over this book. 


Overall Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Character development

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What You Wish For



Publication Date
July 14, 2020


Storygraph Rating
3.81 stars

Goodreads Rating
3.82 stars

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