Pages: 368 (hardcover)
Release Date: July 10, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley for review
When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.Review
In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.
But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie.
So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?
The choice isn't as simple as you think...Goodreads
Don't You Wish is a cute interpretation of an invisible girl's re-emergence into the popular crowd. The aspect that you don't see coming is how this girl gets to be popular: an invention of her dad's sends her to a parallel universe where her mother married a rich past boyfriend, and thus Ayla Monroe is born. This sci-fi addition was definitely a high point for me in what would otherwise be a contemporary novel. Unexpected but great!
One thing I really liked about Annie/Ayla was that she stuck to her morals the whole book. Even when she wakes up to a housekeeper making her breakfast, her 'friends' criticizing her clothes or wondering why she's being so nice to the uncool kids, she doesn't let her new popularity get to her head. If anything, her life as one of the 'invisibles' keeps her from treating anyone rudely or unfairly. She has a few moments of weakness when peer pressure gets the best of her, but for the most part she tries to treat everyone with respect, not caring what it could do to her social rank. As she soon learns, the popular crowd may have that shiny exterior that everyone sees, but they still suffer from the same insecurities as everyone else, they're just much better at hiding them or masking them with meanness. Seeing Ayla use her popularity for good was one of those inspirational moments that would translate really well into a movie.
Things get even more interesting when Ayla meets Charlie, a formerly homeless student now on a full scholarship. He is despised by most of the popular student body for not belonging in their school and she is drawn to how down to earth he is. He, on the other hand, is at first wary at being seen with the most popular girl on school, but as he gets to know the real Ayla, he comes to admire her. She goes as far as to reveal that she is really Annie Nutter, and the life she's living is not her own. Luckily Charlie is a science genius and he is totally enraptured by the idea of multiple universes. It's a little coincidental but I loved how enthusiastic Charlie was, and the science that was brought up, that I really didn't mind. Annie learns that Charlie's been through a lot the past few years, and his treatment at school is totally unwarranted. He and his family welcome her with open arms and Annie is overjoyed at the strength that they have given their circumstance.
The main crux of the end of the book comes, of course, when Annie must decide which life she's going to stick with. Being popular isn't all it's cut out to be, but she's working to turn the social tides at school. But her rich family is falling apart and leaving would also mean losing Charlie, the boy she's come to care deeply about. I won't spoil it of course, because it's one of those endings that you just have to experience for yourself in all its entirety, emotions and all.
Don't You Wish is a literal interpretation of 'the grass is always greener on the other side', and it comes with characters and emotions that anyone can relate with. From Annie's life as Ayla and all the perks and losses that come with it, to her taking a good look at the life she left behind, geeky friends, dysfunctional family and all. It's a fun novel but manages to easily meld that with more serious issues and complicated science all wrapped up in a pretty bow. Definitely give this one a read!