A Little Hope by Ethan Joella – review

Published by Muswell Press

Publication date – 28 April 2022

Source – review copy

Freddie and Greg Tyler seem to have it all: a comfortable home at the edge of the woods, a beautiful young daughter, a bond that feels unbreakable. But when Greg is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, the sense of certainty they once knew evaporates overnight. Meanwhile, Darcy Crowley is still coming to terms with the loss of her husband as she worries over her struggling adult son, Luke. Elsewhere, Ginger Lord returns home longing for a lost relationship; Ahmed Ghannam wonders if he’ll ever find true love; and Greg’s boss, Alex Lionel, grapples with a secret of his own.

Freddie and Greg have to face the unknown. Greg has been diagnosed with cancer and the future is uncertain. The months ahead will be filled with gruelling treatment and worry. As the pair struggle to deal with the present, Greg’s illness touches on those who come into contact with the family. Yet each of those people have their own problems to face and demons to battle.

Now I will start off by saying I found this book very sad. I also read it at a time when I wanted to read anything but sad. There were times I didn’t want to read it, when I took a break. However, I was won over by the lovely writing and depictions of everyday, and not so everyday, problems.

There are some beautiful moments, reflections on love and loss. Freddie looks at her marriage, at what she has had with Greg and what she might lose. Alex looks back at how a tragedy in his past has shaped his life, and continues to shape his future. Ginger runs into old boyfriend Luke and wonders what she might have lost. Meanwhile Darcy, Luke’s mum and Freddie’s boss, worries about her son and still tries to copy with her grief at the death of her husband.

I loved the style of writing, of moving seamlessly between characters, each chapter linked in some way to the previous one. All of the characters are individuals, with issues of their own to deal with but each of them are reflected in the story of Freddie and Greg. Even though the story flits between characters it never feel anything but a cohesive story, nothing sags or drags at any point.

There is a small town, everyone knows everyone, feel to the book, which makes it perhaps more intimate. We are given a peek into the lives of a select few of the inhabitants, see how they live and love, forgive and forget and learn to accept their flaws for what they are, the things that make them human.

Each chapter flows into the next. There are no characters that are lacking, each one adds to the story, moves it along at a pace that neither drags or races along. This is not a book that has big expositions or major revelations but one which takes the reader on a perfectly paced look into the lives of ordinary people.

Sad but not maudlin, and written with a deftness of touch is a moving portrayal of a moment in time, A Little Hope is a reflective and gentle look at life.


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