Book Review

ARC Book Review: What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 14th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


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.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!


Wow. This book was a lot different than I was expecting. I know Center tends to write some heavy subject matter into her contemporaries and this was the case here as well. I’ll mention it now (and again in my content warnings) that this book is heavily influence by school shootings.

While still discussing such heavy subject matter, Center was able to also infuse light, love and bravery too. The main character, Samantha, was such a joy and I loved her ridiculous antics and fashion choices. Sam’s deep love for her school and the kids she watches over (she’s a librarian!) was evident and was the much needed positive light. Her contrast to Duncan, the ever-brooding, tough-nut-to-crack, new principal was great.

I was impressed with their push and pull, but also thought the slow burn, took way too long to catch any fire. It was over halfway through the book before anything really started to maybe happen. I think if there was a bit more romance I would have adored it even more. I looove that they knew each other prior (at a previous school) and how that played into both of their emotions. It was cute and relatable. And I really appreciated reading the quiet, strong moments between them as discussions of their past came about.

This was an overall enjoyable and touching read. I felt connected to the story and the trauma’s that were discussed. These characters kept me wanting to read to see the full scope of what this novel had to tell. There’s a couple nods to Happiness for Beginners characters (that’s where we first meet Duncan!). I definitely recommend reading that book too, and potentially even first if you want because that book is also a gem.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: little
  • Romance: kisses, heavy make-outs
  • Trigger/Content warnings: loss of a loved one (start of the book), epilepsy (that causes a car crash), PTSD from a school shooting, heavy grief

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