Book Review: “When You Wish Upon a Lantern” by Gloria Chao

Like most folks, I read books to escape the everyday. I love to spend some time glancing into the window of a world I may never experience, meet people I may never talk to, and simply feel things I don’t often get to feel. I am such a sucker for a journey in which two people fall for each other, especially friends to lovers (in this case, childhood friends to lovers!). Gloria Chao’s stories always get to the heart of the matter in just the perfect way, and When You Wish Upon a Lantern weaves beautifully through the grief and hope that are the main characters, Liya and Kai.

“Liya discovers her family’s wishing lantern store is struggling, and she decides to resume a tradition she had with her beloved late grandmother: secretly fulfilling the wishes people write on the lanterns they send into the sky. It may boost sales and save the store, but she can’t do it alone . . . and Kai is the only one who cares enough to help.”

Goodreads synopsis

If you are a dreamer, someone who looks to the heavens for guidance or support or to make a simple wish, you will fall in love with Chao’s prose. Lantern clearly looks back on love stories before it, including that of the ill-fated pair of Romeo and Juliet. Liya and Kai have secretly longed for each other for such a long time, each of them helping everyone around them find their happiness before even considering how to best find their own. Thankfully, they don’t end up poisoned and dead but instead eventually find their way to each other through many beautiful, magical moments and awkward miscommunications.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for review.

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