Monday, November 23, 2015

Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson ARC review.

Name: Finding Hope
Author: Colleen Nelson
Publisher: Dundurn
Releasing: April 12, 2016
Pages: 200
Rating: 5/5
Trigger warning: Sexual abuse, bullying, drug use

Synopsis via Amazon
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.

Excerpt via Amazon:

Mom brandished an envelope above her head like a flag. “A letter just came for you.”

I’d been waiting a month for that letter. Hopping off my bicycle, I let it tumble to the grass. Dry and scrubby, it crackled from lack of water. The summer had stretched endlessly and only now, with the hum of bugs in the air, did it show signs of coming to a close. “It’s like someone didn’t get the memo,” Dad liked to say when the seasons didn’t follow his timetable. Last two weeks of August should have meant deer flies and cooler nights, a hint of the chill that would be coming with autumn, but not this year.

I took the sealed envelope from her. “It’s thick, that’s a good sign,” she said, her hands on my shoulders, not realizing how hard she was squeezing.

My hands shook. The tear I made was ragged and the letter got stuck. Finally, I pulled it free and unfolded it. “Ravenhurst School for Girls is pleased to inform you that you have been accepted for the coming school year.” I didn’t read past those words. Mom started screaming and hugging me.

I waited to feel something. A gush of relief or flood of emotion, but there was nothing. Instead, I felt more rooted to the ragged wooden planks on the porch. A stubborn will to stay.

“Congratulations, Hope!” Mom said and pulled me into another hug. The letter was stuck between us, my arm at an awkward angle.

Ravenhurst had been Mom’s idea. She’d done the research to find a school that took boarders in the city and then laid out her plan over dinner one night, peering at me with her fork hanging in mid-air. “Wouldn’t you want to go there?” she’d asked. I looked at Dad, head down, shovelling mac and cheese into his mouth. “Get out of this place.” She waved her fork around, as if “this place” meant nothing more than our house. Her eyes bugged out, begging me to agree with her.

“Uh-huh,” I said. I didn’t realize that my non-committal grunt would start a two-month long odyssey. Acceptance to a private school in the city meant letters from teachers, an exam, and then an interview. Mom had bought a navy, pleated skirt for me to wear and flat black shoes that pinched my toes. I’d hobbled through the atrium of the school, gazing up at a two-storey foyer encased in glass. Sunlight streamed in, reflecting off the marble floors. Our footsteps echoed, too small to fill the cavernous space. 

I wasn’t kidding myself, Mom wanted this more than I did. As usual, I’d gone along with her plans, not wanting to be the one who upset the delicate balance that existed in our family.
Our splintered family.

I would like to thank +NetGalley and Colleen Nelson for the opportunity to read this book. All opinions herein are of my own. They may differ from person to person. My opinion is not swayed by the people who gave me the book. I was given this in exchange for an honest review only.

Colleen Nelson definitely has a way of pulling you in by the collar of your shirt within the first two pages of this book. I was sucked in so fast by the lyrical way she writes and the beautiful and heart-breaking topics she writes about. My heart immediately went out to hope, and although I was angry, very angry at her brother on occasions: I understood.

I love an author who can make me simultaneously love and hate a character at the same time. I love authors who develop characters well enough to get you on their side and root for them to accomplish whatever they set their mind on. Nelson has developed two very deep characters for this book, and they're going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

I see drug use on a day to day basis where I live. I do not come from a pretty town. There is always a reason people turn to drugs, and sometimes it's less obvious like Hope's brother's situation was. I wanted to hug him and shake him and tell him I love him as well as scream at him at the same time. In ways I felt like Hope. Reaching out for my fiction brother in hopes that he'd come back to me.

If you want a riveting, heart-wrenching story, this is the one for you. You will not be disappointed at all with this book.

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