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Something Like Hope

by Goodman, Shawn

Book list *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.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Goodman (winner of the Delacorte Press Prize, awarded to first-time novelists) debuts with the wrenching portrayal of a girl who has had to shut down her emotions to survive a childhood of profound physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Shavonne's mother was a drug addict, and Shavonne was placed in foster care when she was six years old, where she faced a myriad of abusive situations. Now 17 and living in a juvenile facility, Shavonne's primary emotion is a burning anger that erupts in violence and will secure her a place in prison when she turns 18, a fact she is unable to care about, despite her desire to regain custody of her two-year-old daughter. But her new therapist, whose vulnerability touches Shavonne despite herself, begins to earn her trust and lead her to a place where she is emotionally strong enough to confront the secret that has haunted her. The story and its trajectory are familiar, but Goodman's delicate prose avoids sentimentality, instead painting a searing picture of a girl who slowly begins to claim the life long stolen from her. Ages 14-up. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

 

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