In life, you meet many people. Some you admire, some you wish you’d never met. Few make you think: ‘When I woke up this morning, I didn’t imagine that I would meet someone like you.’ When you do, it’s rather like taking a step and finding gravity has relaxed. Hope Nicely is a little like that.
Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is released in hardback today (22nd July) and what a beautiful book it is. On the cover of the advance proof copy I received it states ‘Meet the character you won’t be able to resist falling in love with.’ That is so true, I have completely fallen in love with Hope Nicely.
Written in first person, Hope introduces herself to the reader, telling us she is twenty-five years old, has a job as a dog walker and happily lives with her adopted mum, Jenny. She tells us that she is writing her autobiography. Hope believes writing her story will help her find her real mum. Hope also tells us that her ‘brain is a bit like a jumble sale.’ You see, Hope was born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and abandoned as a baby. She wants to write her book as she believes her real mum will read it and answer the questions that have haunted her all her life:
Why did you keep your bottles of beer and wine and vodka and why did you throw away your baby?
Is that why you did what you did? Did you put me in a cardboard box because you knew what you’d done to me. Did you want a better baby?
Although Hope was bullied throughout school for being ‘different’ and has never had any real friends (apart from dogs), Hope joins a local writing class. As well as hearing about about Dickens and LGBT erotic fiction, she also learns the golden rule of writing, ‘show don’t tell.’ Unfortunately Hope experiences some discriminatory attitudes within the writing class but the overriding attitude from the majority of her classmates is openness, inclusivity and friendliness. There is also an air of mystery about one of Hope’s classmates which creates a great sense of intrigue throughout the narrative.
Her fellow classmate Danny Flynn becomes a true friend to Hope, especially when her mum Jenny has a sudden heart attack with her life is in danger.
Through Danny, Hope meets Connor Flynn, Danny’s brother who is also on the spectrum. Connor has Asperger but Hope thinks Danny is confused with asparagus:
And I don’t tell him that actually that’s a vegetable that you can dip into eggs, like toast soldiers. Because maybe that’s how his family like to talk about their spectrum. Like my rainbow. Because everyone’s unique.
I am quite involved in the disability world, having personal experience, a background in working in disability rights and am trustee of a disability organisation, amongst being involved in disability inclusivity in other ways. I found Hope Nicely’s Lesson’s for Life a moving, beautiful and powerfully educational narrative. It is such a compelling read that made me laugh, cry and shows the true power of friendship and inclusion. In my view, we can all learn from Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life.
Thank you to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to the blog tour of this great, captivating read. However by biggest thank you must go to Caroline Day for writing Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life. This is her debut novel, and believe me it is a stunning, character driven novel. Caroline has some personal experience of FASD, and is also in close contact with a FASD support group from whom she has received an enthusiastic early response to her novel.
Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life was published by Zaffre Books in hardback on 22nd July 2021. It was also released as an eBook and Audio on 29th April 2021. I hope you enjoy meeting Hope as much as I have done. 🙂
To also read my reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on the blog tour, please see below.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂