Thursday, February 11, 2021

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings


It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them. 

Today I'm featuring a recent read, What You Wish For by Katherine Center. The excerpts shared are from a hardcover version borrowed from the library.

Beginning:  I was the one dancing with Max when it happened.

No one ever remembers who it was now, but it was me.


Page 56:  It felt like a great idea at the time.

It felt like a great idea the next morning, even, when I woke up by accident two hours before my alarm.


My thoughts: School librarian Samantha (Sam) Casey moves to Galveston Island, Texas to start a new life, where she find a supportive community at a new school with a progressive environment that nurtures faculty and students alike. When beloved school founder and principal Max Kempner dies suddenly, the community is grief-stricken. While it seems impossible that anyone can fill Max's shoes, outsider Duncan Carpenter is selected as Max's successor, and the teachers are skeptical but hopeful that the school will continue to follow Max's philosophy under new leadership. As it turns out, Sam worked with Duncan at her previous school, and she reassures her colleagues that he is a good fit based on his past performance.

However, the teachers are soon concerned about the future of the school and their own careers, as the once carefree and gifted Duncan is now the complete opposite of his former self. Where Duncan was once a fun-loving and engaged teacher, he is now a serious rules- and security-focused administrator with radical plans to change the school in ways that will make it unrecognizable. What could possibly explain Duncan's radical shift, and can the school community survive intact?

What You Wish For is an engaging story about the effects of fear and trauma on ordinary people and the resilience of the human spirit. It is filled with characters who have experienced life's ups and downs, yet find the courage to change. Both Sam and Duncan are privately dealing with the circumstances that have shaped their lives and made them wary of relationships and life in general. Over time, and with the support of their Galveston Island community, will they overcome the obstacles preventing them from finding joy and living life to its fullest?

Katherine Center's heartfelt story is a very relatable tale about what it means to be human, and how one's vulnerabilities, fears, and strengths define and determine one's destiny.


From GoodReads: 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.


This Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings post was originally composed and/or compiled and published by Catherine for the blog,  It cannot be republished without attribution.


  1. Great review and excellent quotes. What You Wish For sounds like a good and engaging story. Have a great weekend!

  2. Love the beginning lines! I hope you can stop by:


  3. Oh my . Wouldn't that be awful to be dancing with someone when they die? My highlighted book this week here

  4. I loved this book! I hope you enjoy it, too, and here's mine: “AN ORDINARY LIFE”

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Catherine. I have my eyes on this one and am looking forward to reading it. Have a great weekend!

  6. Intriguing, right from the start! Happy Valentine's weekend!

  7. Ooh she did dancing with him? That's an interesting twist to begin with! Here's my post for today.