Hope is a very emotional book about a teenage girl who is struggling to deal with her hormones; the book covers a lot of issues, some of which made me very sad & others that made me very happy. Hope is a diverse book & felt very real to me – I also identified a lot with the main character.
I was sent an uncorrected proof copy of this book by Firefly Press in return for an honest review.
Trigger Warning: This book contains discussion of parental bereavement, body burns & unwell children.
Be prepared for some spoilers
Hope is a contemporary YA book that tells the story of a girl with the same name, who is struggling to deal with her father’s death, challenges in her education, balancing friendships/relationships, & changes in her hormones. The book has been written very honestly & I think I would have really appreciated this when I first started my period; there is a lot of teenage angst & anger in this story & it brought back memories for me from when I was really struggling with my mental health & hormones as a teen (although I was younger at that time than Hope is).
The contemporary side of this story has been written incredibly well – the cast is full of diverse characters who all have their own lives & stories, the casting is honest & realistic, & didn’t have that try hard feel that some diverse books can have (i.e. the characters weren’t included just to tick a box). The people in this book all fit together very well & the dialect all flowed perfectly. I was totally absorbed into the book because it was written so well & felt so real – I really connected with Hope & I felt like I knew her.
The YA side of this story was also written really well… the teenage texting between Hope & her “love interest” was done so, so perfectly & really had me laughing in places. The love interest reminded me a lot of typical, seemingly-arrogant, teenage boys & the texts the two exchanged could very easily have come from my old phone. Now, I loved the love interest, but loathed Hope’s best friend Callie! I don’t know if the reader is supposed to dislike her, but w o w I wanted to slap her on more than one occasion!! I found Callie to be incredibly selfish & to me she didn’t seem like a very good friend – Hope certainly deserved better. Despite my mixed feelings about the teens in the book, I definitely felt like I could have known all of them whilst I was at school… Rhian seems to have a great understanding of what current English teenagers are like & I found myself feeling some forms of nostalgia for secondary school life.
Most importantly, Hope tackles mental health, & this was handled with care, consideration & education. Despite just finishing a psychology degree I didn’t know about what this book really focuses on & I actually think I may have it (another trip to the doctors, yay). There are a lot of period-sufferers who, I think, would benefit from this read because it definitely made me feel less alone & more normal. I realised that the moods & emotions I experience don’t make me broken & that sometimes our bodies just make us act in strange ways that we may not understand. Books like this are important & empowering, & teenagers need more like it.
Hope was educational in more than one way though; it took me into an environment I’ve never experienced before in a book – a children’s hospital ward. Some of the scenes that played out on the hospital wards were heartbreaking & I cried more than once; I don’t know if Rhian has had experience with working with children in hospital but it certainly felt like the writing was coming from a place of knowledge & great compassion. Please be warned though, that these scenes aren’t easy to read & some are very painful to process.
As well as this, Hope also covers organ donation, & it made me quite ashamed that I haven’t looked into it properly before now – especially considering that I may one day need a kidney transplant. I need to do more research into it before I commit but I’m fairly sure I will sign myself up to be an organ donor; I also agree that the UK should have an opt-out policy, instead of opt-in (something which is mentioned within the book), like other European countries. If you’d like to do some reading about organ donation you can do so here, you can follow the NHS Organ Donation Twitter account here & you can sign up to be a donor (in the UK) here.
I only have one issue with this book & it was Hope’s mother – at times I really didn’t understand her & there were definitely moments where I didn’t really like her as well. I have a lot of unanswered questions about Hope’s mother & why she behaved how she did in some of the scenes, but the uncertainty may very well have been deliberate as the story is more about Hope, & not her mother. I definitely found her mother irritating at times though, & I didn’t always think that Hope was in the wrong when her mother thought she was. Hope & her mother’s relationship was written in a good way though, & it was definitely realistic.
This is a book that I’m very happy I read & I want to wish Rhian all the luck in the world with it as I think it tells a very important story with some very important messages. If you’d like to preorder a copy of this wonderful book you can do so here:
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com & you can also find Rhian on Twitter!