Wish Fulfillment

What would you do if you could have any wish granted—no matter how destructive—with the press of a button?  That question is at the heart of Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar.

The story is told from the viewpoint of young Gwendy Peterson, who is twelve at its start, and is having a hard time with her peers in Castle Rock, Maine.  She’s a bit overweight and being teased about it in ways for which kids that age are notorious, so she’s taken up running every day from her house to the viewing platform all the way at the top of the Suicide Stairs.  There, on a park bend in August 1974, she meets a stranger in a black hat who calls out to her—and gives her a mysterious mahogany box with eight little buttons and two little levers.  He then walks away out of sight—but not exactly out of mind.

The actual book is very short, maybe about half the length or less of a typical full-length novel, but it tells Gwendy’s story in vivid flashes, like splashes of paint across a blank canvas.  The setting is mostly Gwendy’s internal thoughts and feelings as she grapples with her custodianship over the box.  Her responsibility turns out to be a heavy one, but this means that most of this tale’s scenery are snapshots of Gwendy’s school and home life as she grows up from a bullied, overweight preteen into a straight-A, athletic young woman.

Gwendy is really the only character that has any real sense of life.  The other characters  seem to be feathery, pale sketches with little substance.  Considering how short the book is, this is possibly forgivable.  As for Gwendy herself, the reader does get a fairly clear picture of her in the time given, although she does come across as a bit too perfect at times.

The plotting was tight.  I didn’t notice any holes.  It wasn’t very complex, and the twists and reveals weren’t all that surprising, though the fate of Gwendy’s high school sweetheart left me feeling sad for her.  Overall, though, this was a story about a young girl’s coming of age and then, possibly, about coming into her own.

In all, I enjoyed the story, but it doesn’t strike me as being very memorable.  The best I can say for it is that it was well-written and interesting enough for me to finish it with little trouble.

Title:                Gwendy’s Button Box

Author:            Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

Copyright:       2017

Publisher:        Cemetery Dance Publications

Edition:           First Edition

Format:            Hardcover


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