We first heard about SELLING HOPE through Shannon and when she asked if any of us wanted to read, I was ALL over it! What can I say? I sit up and take notice when writers say a book is good "In that I-should-give-up-writing-because-I-will-never-be-that-good kind of way." That's how we felt about THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE (how has that book not made the best seller list?!) and I was in the mood for another one of those kind of books.
Here's what the back has to say:
It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?
Oh, we just loved this one. We loved Hope's asides (Kristin has integrated internal monologue jokes throughout the plot that say so much about Hope's character in so few words.) The setting is fascinating--think 1910, Vaudeville, in the midst of Halley's Comet hysteria. I found myself Googling images of Vaudeville in the 1900s just to get a visual. It's been a while since I've read historical fiction and I forgot how much I love it. I've never read about this topic before (the only thing close would be WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, which I loved, but isn't nearly as sweet--understatement of the year there) and I can only imagine how engaging this book will be for middle graders and beyond. I asked all sorts of questions while reading--What must it have been like to think a potentially devastating comet was on the way? Would I have thought pills could save me? What if something similar were to happen today? Would we even know about it or would the government keep it a big secret (Armageddon-style) for our own good? I can only imagine the questions middle schoolers could come up with!
But the best part about this book are the characters. Everyone from Hope's dad (a goofy, bookish, passionate magician), who randomly brought to mind my college roommate's husband, to Buster (another performer a bit older than Hope who is totally swoon-worthy and helps Hope with her grand idea and more) and obviously Hope, the star of the show, whose voice jumps right off the page are written impeccably. I only wish I had a class full of middle school students to share this with. The teacher in me is thinking about all sorts of cool extension ideas--I wonder if Lydia's too young to invent her own anti-comet solution?!
Luckily, I do have teacher friends who are going to get an email all about SELLING HOPE. Kids are going to LOVE this one!
Check out what the other Bookinistas are up to this week:
Myra McEntire spreads some love for SELLING HOPE
Elana Johnson is nuts about NIGHTSHADE
Christine Fonseca swoons over SIREN
Shelli Johannes-Wells is over the moon about THE ORACLE TO REBOUNDS and her fab giveaway.
Shannon Messenger marvels over MUSEUM OF THEIVES (plus she's having another epic giveaway).
Carolina Valdez Miller is struck by SHIP BREAKER.
Megan Miranda is in love with I AM THE MESSENGER