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Author: Lia Weston
ISBN: 9781743538609
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

You Wish is Lia Weston’s third novel, and the second that I have read. I know that Weston is an Adelaide author so I must say that I spent quite a bit of the early chapters trying to work out where this book is set, and it turns out that it’s Melbourne but it is written well enough that it could easily be any major Australian city.

I was actually torn deciding whether this is a contemporary fiction or more a speculative fiction story because there are elements which seem like they should be way far out… but they just aren’t, not anymore.

Thomas Lash has a rather unique career that is described as many things throughout the novel, all of them accurate but none of them quite right. He is an artist first and foremost but he has co-founded a company that uses a very different medium to harness his creativity. He is an image manipulator and master Photoshopper who has turned a couple of well received birthday photos into a career.

It started with adding a friend into an Oscar’s red carpet but in this day and age who is to say where it will end. Your face on stage with your favourite band at a stadium show is a little bit of harmless fun but what about when you are creating complete alternate lives for clients, where does the moral grey area get decidedly murky. The ramifications for a skill set like this are very much a butterfly effect and in the beginning they aren’t necessarily things you take into consideration.

A way with photoshop isn’t Tom’s only talent, he has an uncanny ability to read people and is often used as a party trick. He can read body language and tiny tells about a person, especially strangers, and translate them into knowledge about their lives – and their desires.

Weston’s storytelling style is light-hearted and humorous, told from Tom’s perspective in the first person with snippets of aside dialogue that bring us inside the story because it’s us he’s talking to, generally making an observation about something that’s just happened. It adds an element of light-hearted banter to a story that has a quirky vibe, until it starts to get a bit dark and murky.

You Wish is quirky, the characters are interesting and extremely diverse. They storytelling is engaging and the subject matter is fascinating, if a little – and then a lot – disturbing.

One thing Weston manages to convey beautifully through this story is the limitless scope for art mediums. Tom studied art and by all accounts was pretty accomplished when it came to portraits but they don’t really bring in the big bucks so he branched out. He is now creating unique photo albums of alternate realities for a wide range of clients. Now this is where it gets hotly contested because he is definitely still creating, if not in a traditional sense, but many of those around him don’t recognise what he does as art. The further we get into the story the more he discovers that people aren’t really comfortable with what he does. When he started it seemed like something that would fizzle out rather quick, but then it didn’t… it grew. They don’t realise that Tom is still doing more traditional art, and keeping it a secret from pretty much everyone.

Tom gets himself caught up in the ideal of being able to create the world you want and he starts to lose himself, his life starts imploding around him and then the first complaint comes in. Five years in and the co-founders are looking at ways to move the business forward, in ways that Tom is really not comfortable with.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It is topical, intuitive and insightful but it also has an amazing element of wit, to go with it’s disturbing dash of dark side. It is reminiscent of ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Clients are trusting you with their very sensitive hopes and dreams, what happens if you don’t look after that data, what tsunami can you unleash on these people’s lives if their information gets leaked….

I sit here thinking back on the book and there are a couple of niggling questions that have me wondering where things fit and if they have a significance but if they did I definitely missed it.

You Wish leaves us with concerns to consider, possibilities to ponder and morals to question. Where do you draw the line at what can be created with a bit (or a lot) of creative photoshop? And how much further can this idea be expanded? I loved this story and for the most part I was engaged with the characters, though some were just too difficult to like, but the more I think about the ramifications and the possibilities the more disturbed I become.

You Wish is book #18 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Lia Weston can be found on the following platforms:
Facebook: @LiaWestonAuthor
Twitter: @LiaWeston
Instagram: @liawestonauthor

You Wish is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading and reviewing You Wish so please be advised there may be spoilers in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: You Wish

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed “You Wish”. This is contemporary, funny, and moving. I loved how relevant the plot was, how strong the characters were, and how realistic many of the events were. This is a great, entertaining read, and it’s a bonus that it raises some serious issues.

    Thomas Lash is good at reading people, including sometimes the secrets they can’t or won’t articulate. He’s also an excellent artist, and technically skilled at photoshopping. These three skills have come together in his successful company, IF. IF grants wishes – visually at least. Wish you appeared in a movie? Took the dream holiday you can’t afford? Married Chris Hemsworth? Thomas can provide the photos to “prove” it.

    Originally a joke, the company has found itself doing more and more sensitive work – for example, photo albums “projecting” the life of a dead child. Not everyone thinks this is good – some find it creepy. And the more personal and important the photo books are, the more important discretion and privacy are.

    Thomas’ life begins to implode – he’s not as good at reading the people close to him as he is at reading clients – and he begins to realise that maybe he focused too much on the creative side of IF. He seems to have missed quite a few important things, personally and professionally.

    I found myself empathising very strongly with Thomas. I could completely understand why he thought the work he was doing was good, and also with the uneasiness that was starting to creep in. His relationships with his family, friends and co-workers all seemed very real to me.

    Other characters are also strong, and the situations they find themselves in were all very believable too. I really enjoyed the humor that was laced through the novel – it added a nice sardonic touch.

    One small bugbear for me was the way that everyone in Thomas’ life – except those who work at IF – was really negative about what he does. I thought this was a bit too universal; there are enough positives to the idea that surely at least one of his friends or family would have had some good thoughts about it – but no. That didn’t ring true for me.

    That is about the only thing I didn’t enjoy about this novel. I recommend it very highly.

  2. This book is different to what I would normally read. It is quirky, satirical and well written. It is told in the first person and Thomas is the main character who is a talented artist but can’t earn a living from his art work.

    He forms a company with 2 friends and they create wishes in albums for people who for some reason can’t get what they desire or have lost something from their lives. His parents and friends are not happy with the virtual reality he creates for his clients and think he is wasting his talents.

    What happens when things explode in Thomas’s face and the lines become blurred? This virtual reality crosses from fiction to real life and brings up serious moral and ethical dilemmas.

    His family are disjointed, his friends have messed up lives and Thomas is mixed up in all of it.

    I avidly turned the pages in the book, as the characters drew me in and they were so believable with all their flaws and imperfections.

    I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

  3. Thank you for the copy of You Wish by Lia Weston to read.

    This was a very modern book and slightly different to what I would usually read. It deals with a guy Tom who is an artist struggling to make a living from his art. He forms a business with 2 others making albums to help people make their dream lives a virtual reality. I can see how this could be fun putting yourself in a favourite movie or travelling if you’re afraid to fly. It’s when people want to totally alter their reality the problems set in and there are proper issues.

    I enjoyed the fact that people in Tom’s life were a bit dysfunctional and not all perfect. Tom didn’t have it all together and had to learn like we all do. He still liked to indulge in his art, but defended his company to the many sceptics. He can also read tiny signals from other people which could be a huge help, but also a hindrance. It also doesn’t seem to work to well on those closest to him.

    This was an interesting, thought provoking read about how things that are started for good reasons can get out of hand, and about keeping true to yourself and your dreams.

  4. Thanks to Beauty and Lace I was able to review “You Wish” by Lia Weston. This is the first time I have read a book of Lia Weston.

    It was a book I wouldn’t usually go for but I was really looking forward to reading You Wish as from what I had read it had really good reviews and was made to be a funny and witty book. Unfortunately, I really struggled to get into the book.

    It’s a story of Thomas Lash who is part owner of a company called IF and they design imaginary photo books for clients where they photoshop their lives to their desires. Thomas was an artist originally and his family and friends cannot get their head around what he now does for a living and want him to go back to painting etc. Thomas ends up becoming obsessed with someone who he has never met, only seen in pictures. He has a close relationship with his employee Mica and a lot of the story revolves around Thomas and Mica. Thomas goes through a lot of ups and downs throughout the whole story and gets lost in a lot of his relationships both personal and professional.

    Although it does have a rather nice ending to finish it off I struggled to get into the story line and there was no real cliff hanger for you to want to keep reading. I also struggled to find the witty side of the book. Although I struggled I like to persevere to the end of all books and give all authors the chance to tell their story to the end.

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading You Wish. The idea of the company IF that Thomas works for is an interesting concept and easy to see how things could get out of hand when people are requesting what becomes quite bizarre.
    What I loved was that Tom and his family are “normal” (well, normal to anyone with a crazy family) and disfunctional and together and separate all at the same time. They rely on each other without realising his much. I loved the simplistic and honest way with which Tom told us his story and really invited us to be a part of his goings on and his emotions.
    Also the fact that location was not important. Melbourne was mentioned but the story could have been set anywhere, in any city in any part of the world! I loved that I was allowed to visualise the places as I wanted to and this does not have to be the same way anyone else sees it. I think that lets the reader feel even more a part of the story.
    Thank you for letting me read this book, I was totally immersed right from start to finish and would highly recommend!

  6. Wow! What a story. ‘You Wish’ wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I started reading it and kept thinking that I didn’t understand it and couldn’t really see the big picture and where the story was leading. However, unlike with some other books that I’ve felt similarly about, I couldn’t put this down. I just HAD to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. Consequently, I finished it quite quickly and then missed it!

    I loved the character development and felt that everything worked out just as it should have in the end.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for a fantastic book to review >:o)

  7. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book. Whilst not something that I would normally read, I found this an engaging and enjoyable book.

    For me, having great character development and being able to like/dislike a character is almost as important as the actual story and this book hits that mark well. Thomas is a great character with flaws, dreams and issues which make him relateble in the fact that he is ‘real’ and is rational to believe that this could be based on a real person (rather than a plastic person where everything is just perfect).

    The story line was a little different but fun an quirky which I really enjoyed. I found this a challenging book to put down as I simply just wanted to read ‘one more page, just one more’!


  8. Such a morally confronting book… would you like to be able to create a photo album of what your life could of or should of turned out? A quirky storyline that delves into what could have been your life. The characters are all relevant to the story and each has their own spin on how they approach their work. It was interesting to see how others perceived what this company does. I felt this was a story about Tom and how he used his talents to create something special for others… it was sad to realize his parents thought his talents were wasted and while he was creating something special for others did he forget himself in all of this…. a good story with interesting concepts and ideas even if they did seem a little odd to others .

    Thank you for the opportunity to review this book, I would recommend this book.

  9. IF only? The question every one asks at some point. IF only I traveled the World! IF only I attended the Royal wedding?
    What if you could show your friends photos of yourself there? This book prensents you with so interesting moral dilemmas!
    Sometimes amusing and sometimes dark! Are great read thank for the opportunity to review You Wish. I loved it

  10. This book took me on journey where I could be anywhere accept home, Tom and his family being realistic to how families are made it all the more inviting. People will interpret the place differently even though Melbourne was mentioned. You Wish was great to read and hard to put down not many books capture me like that, Beauty and Lace has opened me up to so many different styles of writing and authors I wouldn’t normally look for my list keeps getting longer especially with Australian authors Thank You for picking me to read this book.

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