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Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite
Benji Marino is a fourteen-year-old eighth grader at Wishville Junior High School. He has a good life. He has good friends. He has a mother who loves him exclusively. Why would he want to leave? Why did his father do just that years before, leaving an unbearable scar on the people of the grey town of Wishville? Benji had tried once before. His friends don’t understand, but Benji is determined to question the mysterious world outside Wishville. When his friend Nina predicts her own death, Benji is left with information he would rather not know. There is only one person he can tell and that person is the outcast of Wishville. Can Oliver Strickett help Benji or will he become one more nail in the eighth grader’s quickly diminishing reputation? As Benji solitarily faces his own demons, the citizens of Wishville are on constant alert to his actions.
Leaving Wishville by Mel Torrefranca exhibits intensity unique in contemporary young adult fiction. A study in literary symbolism, Leaving Wishville is the perfect addition to any middle grade/young adult library. As a former eighth-grade English teacher, I would enthusiastically incorporate Mel Torrefranca’s novel into my classroom reading list. Told in the fashion of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, Leaving Wishville is a believable dystopian journey from greyness to a colorful destination of enlightenment. The characters are realistic and the language appropriate to the mood and variety of themes and plot twists of the story. While the majority of characters are middle grade, the overall sense of the story is mature.