43 pages 1 hour read

Wendy Mass

11 Birthdays: A Wish Novel

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2009

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Symbols & Motifs

The Apple Tree Plant

Amanda’s potted apple tree, which she receives on her and Leo’s combined fifth birthday parties, symbolizes her friendship with Leo. After she overhears Leo insulting her on their shared 10th birthday, she goes home and throws the potted plant from her window; it smashes on the yard below. Amanda’s intentional destruction of the potted plant illustrates her decision to abandon her friendship with Leo after his betrayal.

The next year, Leo and Amanda learn from Angelina that the apple tree plants (Leo has a matching one) are grown from apple seeds from their ancestors’ adjoining farms and are therefore involved in the enchantment that causes their 11th birthday to continue repeating itself on a loop. Amanda carefully retrieves the plant, which has taken root in the earth beneath her bedroom, and repots it. Her careful replacement of the plant on her bookshelf illustrates her efforts to repair her relationship with Leo and her commitment to the friendship’s continuation (251).

Back Handspring

The back handspring symbolizes Amanda’s growing confidence in herself. At the beginning of the novel, Stephanie helps Amanda unsuccessfully try a back handspring in her backyard: “time seems to accelerate faster than its normal speed and before I know it, I’m crumpled in a heap, the freshly mown grass tickling the back of my neck” (12).