Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication Date: 19th March 2016 by Dundurn
Format: ebook sent to me for review by Dundurn via Netgalley
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.
Whether or not this is a truly accurate depiction of drug addiction and the problems that come with it is not something I can comment on. I understand as well that this is one representation of the effects, and that different people will have different problems in their lives as a result of addiction. However, I did enjoy this book and hope for its sake that it is well portrayed, as it felt that way.
I loved how this story focused in particular on the family, and the effects that addiction can have on the other members. It was an interesting take, as many presentations of drug problems focus (understandably) on the addicts themselves, whereas it was good to read something different. I haven’t read a huge number of books that focus on drug problems (I do think I have plenty on my shelves, I just haven’t picked them up), especially in YA, so it was good to see this problem, which is fairly common among young people, the main focus of the book.
Hope was a little annoying throughout, and makes some pretty bad decisions, but overall I liked her for the way she tries to help her brother. As I mentioned, there is a really strong focus on family which is always great to read about. It was mostly her behaviour / actions at school that irked me as they were reckless and downright stupid at times, and they also felt rather unnecessary.
Eric’s parts were heartbreaking and as I was reading them I just felt terrible for him. It really highlights how some people struggle behind closed doors – how terrible things can happen to them – and never say anything. Eric is clearly not a bad character, in spite of the way his parents treat him, and it is awful to think that there are people in Eric’s position without anyone to turn to, who don’t have a Hope in their life.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It wasn’t my favourite, but that doesn’t change the fact that I read it very quickly and it dragged me into the plot. There were so many things happening in the characters’ lives it made for a fairly fast read, with a sprinkling of romance to make it a contemporary (of course). It plays on your emotions and was the first take on addiction I’ve read for a while, and I think it does do a great job at highlighting problems that are perhaps not always put into the spotlight, especially regarding Eric, but Hope as well.
Rating: 4 / 5 stars.