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Something Like Hope Hardcover – December 28, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–Shavonne, who has gone from one juvenile detention center to another since junior high, will be moving out of the system on her 18th birthday. Fury and frustration are huge obstacles she must conquer by coming to grips with a drug-addicted prostitute mother; abusive foster parents who allowed her to be raped; a father who died in jail; giving up her own baby to the foster-care system; and forgiving herself for an accident that injured her beloved baby brother. Her personal challenges are compounded by troubled and desperate fellow inmates; several cruel, manipulative, corrupt guards who beat and taunt them; and youth counselors without a clue, who hurt more than help. Luckily, the last embers of hope deep within Shavonne's soul are flamed by one kind guard and an empathetic and straightforward counselor who successfully reaches through to her at the 11th hour. Shavonne's first-person narrative captures readers' attention and never lets go. Short, compelling chapters keep up the tempo as her shocking and sad past and present are revealed and her desire for a better future takes center stage. Readers will forgive the slightly pat ending, reassured that Shavonne is finally on the right track. Language and situations are appropriately coarse and startling for the setting, and those teens who applauded the urban survivors in Sapphire's Push (Vintage, 1998) and Coe Booth's Tyrell (Scholastic, 2006) will do the same for Shavonne.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Smart, angry, and desperate, Shavonne, 17, is in juvenile detention again, and in her present-tense, first-person narrative, she describes the heartbreaking brutality that she suffered before she was locked up, as well as the harsh treatment, and sometimes the kindness, she encounters in juvie. With a mother who is a crack-addicted prostitute, and a father she never knew who died in prison, she was sent into the foster-care system as a young child. One foster mother needed money for drugs, so she forced Shavonne, 11 at the time, to go with a man who raped her. While she was locked up, Shavonne gave birth, and she is glad that her daughter is now in a kind foster home. As the title suggests, the story leaves room for something like hope; with all the pain and sorrow Shavonne endures, she is never broken. Not only does the African American teen survive, but she also nurtures needy fellow inmates, and she bonds with her counselor even as she tries to escape a vicious, racist supervisor. More than a situation, the story builds to a tense climax: What is the secret Shavonne cannot even think about? Shavonne’s voice—witty, tender, explicit, and tough—will grab readers. In the tradition of Walter Dean Myers’ and Jacqueline Woodson’s novels, this winner of Delacorte’s 2009 prize for best YA debut gets behind the statistics to tell it like it is. Grades 9-12. --Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385739397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385739399
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Young adult fiction is not a genre I generally seek out, given my lack of interest in vampires or teen romance. Something like Hope (Delacorte Press/Random House) is not what I expected of teen fiction. It's a haunting story of Shavonne, who has been in "juvie" all her teenage years. Based on Shawn Goodman's own experiences working within New York State juvenile detention facilities, it's a coming of age story that breaks your heart open to the possibility of hope for someone who has had the cards stacked against her. The antics of abusive guards and careless counselors give the reader an unflinchingly honest and realistic look inside these institutions which beg for juvenile justice reform.
It's the voice of Shavonne which resonates. Angry and confused by what has happened to her, Shavonne lashes out in violence against those who come close to her secrets. As her 18th birthday approaches with imminent release into a harsh world, she begins to open up to a sad-eyed middle-aged white male counselor. He lets her come to terms with giving birth to a baby delivered straight into the system and her own crack-head mother who deserted her. He lets her see it isn't her fault; but what comes next for her will be of her own choosing. He lets her discover these things herself.
The connections between her low self-esteem and self-destructive path lead her to the weight of guilt from the secret she keeps. The guilt she has carried for the role she played in her brother's childhood accident builds like emotional thunderclouds. Letting go of the blame and shame for not being a mother to her brother, or a mother to her own infant, is only possible when she begins to recognize she has been a motherless child. Only now is she becoming an adult and will be responsible for her own self from now on and Shavonne discovers something like hope.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Shavonne is seventeen and in juvie. A pattern of bitterness and brutality follows her as adults around her use and abuse her in the present, same way as they did in the past. Inside the detention center she witnesses more ugliness. Shavonne's dark thoughts and actions hide a fragility that her new psychologist, Mr. Delpopolo, hopes to unearth. This is a novel that shows there can be strength, hope, and beauty during the worst times. And have some Kleenex at hand. It was hard to keep dry-eyed while reading this.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read quite a few books recently that teachers and librarians should have in their libraries, but Something Like Hope is the first book I've read in a while that, if I had the money, I'd buy for all of my teaching friends to read and include in their libraries. Some of us may not have a student like Shavonne right now (that we know of), but who's to say we won't in the future. Shawn Goodman wrote this poignant novel in response to his experiences working in juvenile detention facilities. Unfortunately, many people across the country have had experiences like Shawn. This is why it's so very important for people to know about Something Like Hope. I hope that many readers (teens, parents, educators, etc) will read this novel.

Shavonne's exterior tough attitude reminded me of some of the students I've had. She's suffered from all types of abuse from when she was living with her mom, living in foster care and living in the detention center. It's no wonder that Shavonne has built up this wall to protect herself; she's constantly preparing herself for fight or flight. The abuse she suffers at the juvenile detention facility is the most haunting of all. Any time something happened to her or to another character, I wanted to bust through those doors and have someone arrested! Thankfully Shavonne finds some solace in Mr. Delpopolo. He's straight-forward and honest with her, which both throws Shavonne for a loop, but is also something she desperately needs. Mr. Delpopolo shows Shavonne compassion, which so many teens-troubled or not-crave. The therapy Shavonne receives from talking to Mr. Delpopolo allows her to feel. She feels more than just pain and fear. She starts feeling sympathy and love and concern for her new roommate Mary.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Shawn Goodman gets to the heart of an important issue for young people in his novel SOMETHING LIKE HOPE, and I think we all do ourselves a favor by paying attention to it.

The book highlights how one young person can absorb so much of the world around her and get to a point where she feels as though she would have been better off not even born. Through bad choices and the odds against her, Shavonne is forced to look outside of what she sees and get the point where she realizes that she deserves more and can actually have more than she ever believed possible.

SOMETHING LIKE HOPE is a book that young and old can read and appreciate as well as learn from and hopefully discuss. We have to do more to show our young people that regardless where they come from or even whatever mistakes they have made, they can better themselves if they want to. They just have to know that we really believe it.
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Format: Hardcover
To call Something Like Hope an incredibly beautiful and moving story would be an understatement. Shawn Goodman has used his firsthand experience as a school psychologist, and his work in New York State juvenile detention facilities, to deliver a heartrending, three-dimensional picture of life in "the system," while giving his seventeen-year-old protagonist, Shavonne, a profoundly authentic, credible and convincing voice. Even more disturbing than the childhood atrocities suffered by Shavonne is the treatment she receives in detention at the hands of certain sadistic authority figures. It blows my mind that such positions of trust would attract so many cruel and vicious individuals in possession of such twisted minds, but we already know that surviving these facilities is no walk in the park, so I have to believe that Goodman's depictions are fairly accurate based on his own experience.

I could not put this book down, and the ending brought me to tears. It was so powerful, I had to go back and re-read the last few chapters. And I cried a second time. So many scenes--like Shavonne's desperate telephone call to her daughter's foster mom, and her unexpected encounter with a kindly woman on the Greyhound bus--are hauntingly touching and superbly rendered. Goodman's gritty-yet-poignant tale offers a glimmer of hope that genuine care and concern still exist in the harshest corners of this world, while underscoring their immutable power to repair even the worst emotional and psychological wreckage from a childhood beset with unthinkable ruthlessness, indifference and despair.

Although Something Like Hope is a quick, young-adult read, it is one of those rare books I would characterize as "required reading" for all adults--young and old alike.
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