Wish Riders (2006), by Patrick Jennings

This begins as if it were a realist novel of the hardships a young orphan faces, forced to work in a logging camp in the mountains.  But when the protagonist, Dusty, plants some seeds in the woods and wishes on them, magic begins.  Eventually, she and a number of other children escape from the horrors of camp life.  The first half of the novel builds the relationships and characterizations of the children and those around them; the second half tells of their flight, and the adventures that force the children to choose their own paths in a threatening world.  The combination of magic and realism is almost magic-realism, as a literary technique, but not quite. Nonetheless, it works well, leaving the reader wondering where the boundaries of reality lie, and whether sometimes crossing them might be one’s salvation.  This is certainly a text I would recommend to young adult readers.

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