Helen Rutter has followed up her Costa Book Award shortlisted debut The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh with another charming, feel-good story certain to win a place in readers’ hearts. 11-year-old Archie Crumb does his best to stay positive, but life isn’t easy: his mum is suffering from depression and rarely gets out of bed for more than minutes at a time; his father seems to care more for his new wife and daughter than his son; and at school, not only does Archie feel worst at everything, but year six queens Bella and Bea are always ready to belittle him. He keeps all this secret, and not even his best friend Mouse knows how bad things are at home. Everything changes when he falls off his bike, coming round to the vision of his favourite footballer Lucas Bailey standing over him. Lucas, a man prone to sharing inspirational quotes, offers him ‘a bit of luck’ to make Archie ‘see what’s possible’. This takes the form of nine wishes, though they come with a warning to be smart about how he uses them. Astonishingly, the wishes come true, with varying degrees of success/embarrassment for Archie, but it’s other, tangential developments that really change Archie’s life for the better.
Rutter treads the finest line between tragedy and comedy, and keeps everything feeling very real and true, while simultaneously allowing for the possibility of miracles. Archie’s story will leave readers feeling cheered and reassured that pretty much anything is achievable with the help of family and friends, no matter how dark the situation.