Annika Truman is not used to losing and, generally, will stop at nothing to get what she wants. When her little brother, Jeremy, is diagnosed with cancer, she does feel a loss of control, but it’s nothing compared to her desire to help Jeremy fight the cancer (and win). As he faces surgery in a week to remove the tumor, all Annika wants — desperately — is for him to come through OK. To help him (and her), she invents a “genie” that will grant three wishes. All she expects him to ask for is an action figure from his favorite TV show, Teen Robin Hood, but what he really desires is for Robin Hood to come and spend a day teaching him archery.
Being the loving (and determined) sister that she is, Annika decides that Jeremy must have his wish, thus beginning a series of implausible (and possibly impossible), yet (at turns) hilarious, romantic and embarrassing, events. Annika drives to Burbank (and living in Henderson, Nevada, makes it a convenient four hours away) to find the actor, the uber-dreamy Steve Raleigh, and convince him to come spend time with her little brother before he goes into surgery. It’s unrealistic to think that the plot of the book ever could happen: real people don’t just drive to California, cleverly weasel their way into basketball stadiums and TV sound lots, happen to run into TV stars, have karmic connections with them, and have everything work out in a nice little package tied up with a green and red plaid bow.
Implausible/impossible plot aside, the book is thoroughly enjoyable in a fluffy, romantic-comedy sort of way. Annika and Steve are perfect foils for each other, and there are situations that Annika (both alone and with Steve) finds herself in which are fine slapstick. But there’s also depth in the book — Annika’s love for and devotion to her little brother, as well as her struggles with mortality and infinity — that makes it less fluffy and more believable than it could have been. Rallison doesn’t have the story wrap up neatly, either, which adds weight to the rest of the book, making sure that Annika — and the reader — are still grounded. There’s no assurance of happily-ever-afters, no riding off into the sunsets, no perfect sweep-us-off-our-feet ending.
Ultimately, it’s a book where the individual parts — rather than the overall plot — make it better than expected. That’s the kind of surprise I like.