Sixteen year-old Hope is trapped in a small town as her family wrestles with her brother’s addiction to crystal meth. After her mom pushes her to apply for a prestigious boarding school over an hour away, she’s shocked to discover she’s been accepted. There’s only one problem: if she moves away, how will her brother, Eric, survive on the street without the money and food she regularly slips to him? When Eric learns Hope has gone away to school, he follows her to the city. Unfortunately, his inner demons only torment him harder as he draws nearer to the memories that pushed his former life completely off the rails. He turns to Hope for help, but she has her own battles to fight, and for the first time, she may not be able to save him from himself.
Though Finding Hope is described as being about Hope, I kind of felt like Eric stole the show. This sort of echoes the way Hope’s family operates, where Eric is the squeaky wheel, the one who requires a lot of intervention and causes a lot of tension, and Hope sort of goes quietly unnoticed. I felt a little disappointed that the novel kind of went the same way. She has her own crisis to manage, but even that sort of took a back seat to Eric’s unfolding drama.
One thing I really liked was the role her poetry played in the story. I liked that she crafted poems during intense situations and that she used them to communicate with her brother. I also loved the way her writing impulses escalated to her scrawling the lines on her own body. I felt that increased pressure and that sort of coming-unglued feeling right along with her in those moments.
I wished I’d gotten to see more of her relationship with Devon as it unfolded. I felt like we got snippets of her email exchanges, but not enough to make me feel like I understood or believed in the relationship.
The story resolves many of the big issues raised, some more easily than others. Again, Hope’s troubles sort of take a backseat to Eric’s. Things unwind pretty quickly, and true to its title, the tale leaves readers with the sense that the worst is over, and better days are ahead for Hope and her family.
Girls at Hope’s new school dare each other to walk through the hall naked or send photos of their breasts to boys from another school. A man encourages a boy to watch pornography. One character reveals memories of abuse. The memories are choppy, it’s not a play-by-play reveal of events, but there are some graphic, intense descriptions, including one describing coerced oral sex.
Eric injures his hand during a robbery.
Eric is addicted to crystal meth. The addiction is clearly destroying his life and relationships with his family. He’s living on the street, depending on handouts from guilt-ridden or sympathetic family members and strangers.