I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson
Release date: April 12th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.
At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.
Finding Hope is a difficult book to read. It’s a contemporary fiction novel that deals with hard topics such as drug addiction, sexual abuse and bullying. While it’s a fairly short read, these topics mean it may not be for everyone. Many young adult books tend to skim over these topics or not mention them at all and that this why I am grateful for what the author was trying to accomplish with the book. However, I found it to be a less than satisfying read.
The book is told through two points of view: Hope, an insecure and naive teenager and her brother Eric, a drug addict who used to be the star of his high school hockey team. Both characters feel a lot of pain throughout the novel and have to deal with a lot of issues. Hope is a bit of a loner who leaves her small town to attend Ravenhurst, a private all-girls school. She wanted it to be a new start but makes some poor choices that cause her great pain. Eric is a complete mess. He’s been kicked out of the family home and drifts from one place to another looking for his next high. Hope tries to help him as much as she can, but it becomes more difficult when she moves to her new school.
My main issue with the book was how quickly everything progressed. I never actually felt connected to any of the characters or how they were feeling. I actually felt very annoyed with Hope’s constant whinning and some of her choices. I seriously wanted to scream at her! I think more books should deal with these topics, but the author needed to dig deeper. This was especially true with Hope’s story which has a situation involving cyberbullying. Things in the book were resolved too neatly, which seemed unrealistic to me. It’s not how the real world works and I think it sends out the wrong message. Very few young people have their problems easily solved like Hope did in the novel. Moreover, what was the fallout? What happened to Hope should have caused some kind of reaction such as her feeling depressed, but the story is like here’s the solution and tah-dah…everything is perfect.
What I did like was the inclusion of short poems that illustrate how Hope is feeling. I felt that these did more to explain true emotion than any other part of the book. The reason why Eric went from star athlete to homeless dug addict was also well done. It was revealed slowly throughout the story and this helped to explain his actions. If anything, Eric’s story was more focused and details than that of Hope.
Finding Hope had so much potential. The plot was interesting and the poetry was fantastic, but it just lacked detail which could have made it believable.