by Colleen Nelson
I am so pleased to be part of Dundurn's blog tour for Colleen Nelson's newest young adult book, Finding Hope. If you've followed CanLit for LittleCanadians, you'll know that I've previously reviewed her The Fall (Great Plains Teen Fiction, 2013) and 250 Hours (Coteau, 2015) and appreciated her compelling reads about tough issues like death, guilt, bullying and discrimination. Finding Hope is no less than what I would expect from Colleen Nelson: a gripping novel about the tragedy of shame and the faith that somehow, some way things will right themselves.
Told in the alternating voices of fifteen-year-old Hope and her older brother Eric, Finding Hope examines the sibling relationship and the direction it takes when Eric becomes addicted to meth. But the story is so much more than that because of a monumental concept called shame and all it entails for both young people.
The story starts in late August just as Hope learns she’ll be leaving their small town of Lumsville and heading to a private school named Ravenhurst School for Girls. This is something her mother really wants for Hope; in fact, she wanted it for Eric too, pushing him to succeed in hockey, hopeful that it would be his ticket out of Lumsville. He was good at hockey. Very good. So good that he became a “special” mentee for his coach, a relationship that leads to the shame that sets Eric on the meth-addled path to “make it all go away.” (pg. 10)
Shame isn’t a weight or something that gets worn. It’s elastic, stretching and strangling anything in its reach. (pg. 222)After Eric's progression through drugs leads him to stop going to school and start doing meth, his mom and step-dad, Hope’s father, kick him out of the house. But that doesn’t stop Hope from leaving him money and food and whatever else he needs. Sadly, because of his drug use and the paranoia and anxiety that results, their relationship becomes one of Hope enabling Eric: she feeling guilt for the life she has and he feeling that drugs is the only way to live with his secret shame of sexual abuse by his coach.
But after Eric breaks into a pharmacy, he’s on the run and heading to the same city where Hope is now going to school. Both are now looking for the means to survive on their own in new environs where unexpected threats continue to arise and for which they are both unprepared. For Eric, it’s finding the basics of life, like food and shelter, and feeding his addiction. For Hope, it’s finding a friend, even a boyfriend, with whom she can be herself. The saving grace for Eric is a discarded puppy he finds, whom he names Storm, and for Hope it’s her ability to put her feelings into poetry. Neither one really knows how to help themselves or each other but somehow that’s what they manage.
Finding Hope is a tragic story of looking for something better, and Colleen Nelson tells it with such beauty and poetry. For Eric and Hope, hope–the concept–is not wishful thinking. It is an appropriate expectation that the world should right itself.
My brother sits beside me
Twisted and used, both of us.
We will find a way
Remnants of our lives,
Making a new path
Online book launch
Tired of never being able to attend book launches?
Then enjoy the online book launch for Finding Hope.