cover image Call Me Hope

Call Me Hope

Gretchen Olson, . . Little, Brown, $15.99 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-316-01236-2

A nyone who equates child abuse only with physical blows may think in broader terms after reading this moving story of a sixth grader tormented by her mother’s hurtful words. Hope, whose father left when she was a baby (because she “cried all the time,” according to her mother), has been called stupid so many times she gets a “stinkin’ stomachache” every time she hears the word. She can’t seem to do anything to please her mother, but luckily there are others—Hope’s teacher, her school counselor and classmate Brody, for instance—who believe she does have value. Hope reaches a turning point after making friends with two women who run a used clothing store. Deeply affected by their kindness and inspired by Anne Frank’s diary, Hope gradually begins to believe in herself, even when her mother dishes out her cruelest punishment by not allowing Hope to participate in the Outdoor School program. Without giving too pat a solution to Hope’s internal and external conflicts, Olson (Joyride ) provides signs that her protagonist’s future will be considerably brighter than her past. Children who can identify with Hope’s predicament will find solace in this book as well as tips for survival, listed by Hope in the final chapter. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)