17-year-old Shavonne has been in juvenile detention since the seventh grade. Mr Delpopolo is the first counselor to treat her as an equal, and he helps her get to the bottom of her self-destructive behavior, her guilt about past actions, and her fears about leaving the Center when she turns 18. Shavonne tells him the truth about her crack-addicted mother, the child she had (and gave up to foster care) at fifteen, and the secret shame she feels about what she did to her younger brother after her mother abandoned them. Meanwhile, Shavonne's mentally unstable roommate Cinda makes a rash move, and Shavonne's quick thinking saves her life—and gives her the opportunity to get out of the Center if she behaves well. But Shavonne's faith is tested when her new roommate, mentally retarded and pregnant Mary, is targeted by a guard as a means to get revenge on Shavonne. As freedom begins to look more and more likely, Shavonne begins to believe that maybe she, like the goslings recently hatched on the Center's property, could have a future somewhere else—and she begins to feel something like hope.
What Lila has to say:
I can't describe this book without using the word "heartbreaking." And what's even more difficult to comprehend is the fact that this story may not be fiction to 93,000 boys and girls across the country who occupied residential centers at the time the book was written. In fact, Shawn Goodman has worked in several juvenile facilities like the one in the book, so I imagine he pulled from his own experience to write Shavonne's story.
And there's no doubt in my mind that this book will win additional awards (Shawn has already won the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, as seen on the cover). Shavonne's voice is pitch-perfect and Mr. Delpopolo, her counselor throughout the book, could have been sitting across the table from me the way he jumped right off the page. I absolutely loved the tension at having the opportunity to be inside Shavonne's head while at the same time witnessing her actions, which were often directly in conflict of one another. Throughout the course of the novel, she is hiding something and as I turned each page, I was urging her to let Mr. Delpopolo in so that he could help her move forward and could teach her how to heal. I grew attached to say the least.
I've already emailed many of my teacher friends to spread the word about this beautiful book. It would be a great conversation starter in 7th-12th grade and will be a great source of inspiration for students who may be struggling to find their way. Shavonne's story will break your heart, but will also leave you feeling incredibly hopeful. It's the perfect reminder of how lucky we all are to have friends and family members who love us and a life where we feel safe. It also leaves me very inspired to spread some love around.
So here's the deal. One lucky commenter will win a brand new copy of SOMETHING LIKE HOPE. But here's the catch. After you read it, you must donate it to a school or a shelter or hand it off to a young person you know who might benefit from a little hope in their lives. Deal? Deal. Oh...and then we want to hear about it, of course! We want to know if you loved the book as much as us and where the copy ended up.
Leave a comment for a chance to win!
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