Author: Lara Williamson
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 1st March 2014
Genres: Children's/Young Adult/Contemporary
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Dan Hope is a hopeful eleven-year-old boy whose life is full of highs and lows, twists and turns. Still at that wonderful age where he thinks he can make everything right again with a couple of emails and a guitar, he tries desperately to get his Dad back and to make everyone happy again.
This is such a beautiful book inside and out. I truly empathised with Dan and his story really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved his family too, especially his sixteen-year-old sister 'Ninja Grace' (so called because her words are like venom.) Williamson has done a brilliant job at creating typical family dynamics and I really enjoyed reading about their day-to-day lives!
There were some really lovely moments in this book, like when Dan and his mum's boyfriend went out and flew a paper lantern, on which Dan had written his feelings about certain events that occurred in the story. I'm trying my hardest not to include spoilers so I suppose you'll just have to read the book for yourself!
The only things that irked me slightly was that Dan seemed much younger than eleven. Comparing him to the boys in my classes when I was Year 7 (that was 4 years ago...wow) he seemed more like eight or nine than eleven and his school seemed like a primary school, not a secondary school. On the other hand, I don't think the book would've been as good had Dan seemed older. There is something about his vulnerability and child-like ideas that make A Boy Called Hope such a sparkling debut. The other thing that irked me slightly was that this book is quite predictable - I'd figured out the main major plot twist before I'd even reached the middle of the book, but luckily that didn't stop me enjoying the book at all.
As well as being beautifully written, A Boy Called Hope is funny and thought-provoking. Williamson has brought warmth and familiarity to characters in such a way that only extremely skilled authors can. I am so glad to have discovered such a wonderful writer and I cannot wait for Lara's next book. Only two years to wait...ah, the pros and cons of reviewing ARCs!
A must-read for 2014! Warm characters, beautifully written and with a sprinkling of humour - what more does a good book need?