Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.
But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vindhya crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?
Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?
She does her work in the background, hiding it from everyone else (history is not always kind when people find out there is a fairy godmother). That is, until a boy at school, Noah, figures out what she is and blackmails her into helping him get back a girl that she helped in the past. She doesn't glimpse it in his future, but he knows that Holly would be with him if Charity hadn't meddled after seeing Holly at prom with the popular athlete Kade. Ultimately, Charity agrees to save her other Cindys from devastation at his hands.
Along the way, the tides shift and Noah and Charity begin to learn more about themselves and each other in a way that is emotionally dangerous.
What I loved: The premise of the story was truly fascinating, and I loved Charity's fairy godmother "powers" but also the effort that she puts into make the dreams she glimpses come true. Charity is heartfelt, genuine, and really a truly kind person. I was also fascinated by the things we learn about her powers as the book goes on. I also super-loved the character of her grandmother, Memom, who is so vivid and delightful.
In terms of the romance, if I could ignore the first part of the book and their meet-(not-at-all)-cute, then it was really strong. Charity's emotions and longings were so intense and came through the page so well, that it was impossible not to want for her the things she wants. There are a few intense moments that make the reader ultimately cheer for the relationship she gets.
What left me wanting more: I had a lot of trouble with the blackmailing that Noah does, and that made it hard for me to get fully on-board with his character. The whole conversation felt misogynistic and sexist on a lot of levels. He is convinced his former friend would be in love with him - or that Charity would make that happen - even though Holly was not into him that way or indicated anything along those lines. He also steamrolls Charity a lot and will not listen to her or believe her about what she can or cannot do.
There are also a lot of comments side characters that felt horribly sexist, along similar lines, with the ways they treat Charity and her relationship with Noah, the blackmailer who is forcing her company. Girls do not seem to have much autonomy at this school if everyone believes they cannot make decisions for themselves in terms of their romance and who they like, and while it was something that disappears into the background later in the book, it really bothered me, because Noah is not so different with his assumptions about Holly.
Final verdict: Excluding the beginning of the book, GLIMPSED was an intriguing book that creates a unique fairytale in real life with the premise turned sideways. With an empathetic, genuine, and heartfelt main character, the book takes us on a ride through everyday magic and its potential to make dreams come true.