“The Wish List” Explores Do-overs in Life (and Death)

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

I bet most of us have considered “do overs,” what we would re-do in our life if given a chance. Maybe we would change a conversation, an action (or lack thereof), or a decision. In The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, Lowrie McCall’s list consists of four things he wished he had done in his life. Furthermore, the fate of Meg Finn’s soul depends on her success in helping him complete his wish list. School Library Journal describes their journey as “both humorous and poignant, as Lowrie confronts his regrets and Meg strives to attain salvation.”

the wish list

This is the story of Meg Finn, a 14-year-old Irish school girl who is struggling to reconcile her deeds. It is a dark story, yet full of wit. Colfer, again, takes on good and evil — this time crossing the lives of the living with the souls of the dead. The story opens with Meg assisting Belch Brennan and his pit bull in robbing the elderly Lowrie McCall. In the process, Belch manages to get himself, his dog, and Meg blown to bits.

Meg’s consciousness returns as she is traveling through a tunnel. When the tunnel branches, one going down and one going up, Meg drifts toward the upward tunnel and gets stuck while Belch and his dog (now fused together) hurtle downward. Meg’s soul is perfectly balanced — while she has done bad things, she is not a bad person — and as a result, St. Peter and Beelzebub get in a tug-of-war over her soul. Meg is given one chance to right her wrongs; if she is successful, her soul will continue its journey upward, and if she fails…

Meg’s mission is to help Lowrie complete his wish list before he dies, which is quite imminent. Lowrie’s list:

1. Kiss Sissy, the girl of his dreams (now a famous actress);
2. Score a goal in Croke Park (he and his friends had broken into the park as youths);
3. Punch a childhood bully (he changes his mind);
4. Spit off the Cliffs of Moher (based on a song).

Of course, Beelzebub desperately wants Meg’s soul for himself, so he sends the Belch/dog soul back to fetch Meg’s. As Meg helps Lowrie complete his list, both of their life stories unfold, they reconcile their regrets, and they develop an inseparable bond.

The Wish List was a novel that kept me reading — I felt anxious for Meg, rooted for Lowrie, and laughed at the bumbling antics of Belch and his sidekick, Myishi. I also made connections to Colfer’s other novels (i.e., The Supernaturalist and Airman) and thought about my own regrets — I suspect my own wish list could be in the making…

Colfer, E. (2003). The Wish List. Miramax, 256 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0786818631.

Journey through Worlds of Words during our open reading hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check out our two online journals, WOW Review and WOW Stories, and keep up with WOW’s news and events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *