Title: Finding Hope
Author: Colleen Nelson
Expected Publication Date: March 19, 2016
Pre-order: Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble
Summary: Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.
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.
A huge thank you to Dundurn and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy for reviewing.
The book deals with several taboo subjects, which makes this a different and pretty refreshing read compared to other YA books. Several themes that are touched on include drug use, abuse, and a few others that were uncomfortable to read about, but very much absent in other books of this genre. What I appreciated most about Finding Hope was that it didn’t gloss over or sugarcoat anything. Nelson tackled issues that people tend to turn a blind eye to.
It’s not incredibly lengthy by any means; I finished it in about a day, without factoring in any breaks taken in between chapters. That’s where my biggest problem with this book lies. I felt like it was too short and there were several “quick fixes” to some major real-life matters.
In terms of characterization, I found that Hope was very naive and difficult to feel sorry for; difficult to connect with. But when it came down to it, I realized that this is likely a realistic depiction of what teenagers in her situation might do. There’s an immense amount of peer pressure that occurs with youth today, and in that respect, this just added to the appeal of the book and capped off the overall tone that Nelson was trying to achieve. The book is mostly about family. Her brother, Eric, is another narrator in this story, and though I didn’t have a much differing opinion about him as I did Hope, I kind of wished his story was fleshed out more; that we got more background on what he went through and what made him the way he was. His story has the potential to push the boundaries of YA storytelling, and if Nelson ever decided to write something like a sequel or a standalone with a similar storyline, I would gladly read it.
Her writing is captivating and truthful, and despite the lack of a few stars in my review (I was teetering between giving this a three or a four), I actually really did enjoy reading Finding Hope. There was a lot of promise in the book and it laid a foundation for what could have been a game-changer in current realistic YA fiction. Colleen Nelson is just as lovely a person as she is a writer, and I do believe it’s worth checking this book out if you’re looking for a different kind of read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colleen Nelson is the author of YA fiction books Finding Hope (2016), 250 Hours (2015), The Fall (2013) and Tori by Design (2011). ‘The Fall’ and ‘Tori by Design’ both won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. ‘The Fall’ was also nominated for the White Pine Award. Currently living in Winnipeg with her husband, two young sons and three grown step-children, Colleen manages to eke out time to write everyday, but usually in the early morning after a strong cup of coffee. A junior high school teacher for ten years before having children, Colleen is familiar and comfortable with the tricky phase of life called ‘adolescence’. Now a Teacher-Librarian in Winnipeg, Canada, Colleen is constantly on the look-out for books that will catch the attention of her reading-reluctant sons. (via Goodreads)