Thursday 22 July 2021

Book Review | Hope Nicely's Lessons for Life by Caroline Day

Publication Date: 22nd July 2021 (UK) by Zaffre
Format: Physical ARC
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Contemporary  


Content warnings: References to suicide & sexual assualt.
Representation: MC with Foetal Alochol Spectrum Disorder, SC with autism, gay SC, queer SC. 


Hope Nicely hasn't had an easy life.

But she's happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people's dogs. She's a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she's a rainbow person, a special drop of light.

It's just...there's something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where she will not only learn the lessons of writing (including the number one golden rule of 'show don't tell'), but may also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.

But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come...


My Thoughts

"We are ALL unique. Nobody has the very same body or the very same skin or has the very same feelings or the very same brain. Inside we are all different too."  
Hope Nicely's Lessons for Life charmed me from the very first page. Hope is 25 years old, lives with her adopted mum and has a job walking dogs in the park. She was also born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. As Hope joins a writing class in order to start her own autobiography, she discovers more about herself, her birth mother and life. 
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a condition that I had heard of but wasn't overly familiar with. Caroline Day has a great understanding of the disorder though and through Hope's eyes we're able to make sense of her understanding of the world around her, her relationships and her likes and dislikes. Hope was just such a joyful character too, her voice felt incredibly authentic and her misunderstandings of words and sayings had me smiling the whole way through. 
The narration style takes a little getting used to but I was hooked after about 100 pages. It's an incredibly quick read and I sped through the remaining pages really quickly, Hope's voice is a driving force and whilst there isn't a huge amount of intrigue for the plot itself I just loved Hope's character and I wanted to stay with her for as long as possible. 
The characters are what truly makes this book. A stellar cast of vibrant and supportive friends and family for Hope who show her so much kindness and encouragement through the difficulties she faces throughout the novel. I particularly loved her relationship with Danny, a member of her writing group who she becomes close friends with as well as his autistic brother Connor. Hope and Connor were so sweet and even though it wasn't a conventional relationship, it made my heart melt a little. 
Ultimately this book was just so incredibly heartwarming with equal amounts of funny moments as there are heartbreaking ones. It taught me a lot about acceptance, embracing your differences and holding onto hope even in the darkest of times. A lovely debut that will keep you smiling long after you've turned the last page. 
* I received a physical ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes included in this review are subject to change. Massive thank you to Zaffre for providing me with a review copy.

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