The Wish Giver Critical Essays

Bill Brittain


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The meaning of The Wish Giver is easy to comprehend: People need to be careful of what they desire, for it might come true. Readers also learn another lesson: that what one wishes for is not always what one wants or what is best. Each young person learns these lessons as the wishes come true.

Polly’s wish to be liked and to be invited to Agatha’s house does come true, but with a heavy price. She realizes that she is doomed to a life of saying nice things unless she wants to sound like a frog. When Polly is invited to Agatha’s house, she also discovers that Agatha’s idea of fun is dull compared to the good times that she has in the woods with her two friends. Polly finally realizes that instead of wasting her time trying to be friends with Agatha, she could be spending her time making friends with others who would enjoy the same things that she does. Polly ultimately decides that she needs the guidance of someone older and wiser and sets out for Coven Tree.

Rowena’s wish for Henry Piper to put down roots in Coven Tree takes on a bizarre aspect as he slowly turns into a tree. As Rowena tries to comfort him, she realizes that Henry has been leading her along and that his pleasantness and flirtatiousness were a thin veneer for his real self—a complainer and a liar. During her efforts to make Henry comfortable as he transforms into a tree, Rowena realizes that Sam, the young man who helps on her father’s farm, has stood beside her all the way. Sam did not blame her when she confided in him about her wish. He only increased his efforts to help her, and it was he who discovered Henry’s lies about being a world traveler. Sam also serves...

(The entire section is 686 words.)