After stealing a sandwich from an attendant and also beating her face in the process, 17-year-old Shavonne has earned herself more time in the juvenile correction center. And after spending the last three birthdays in different lock-ups and giving birth to a daughter who doesn’t even know her now, she wonders if it’s even possible to wish for a better life.

With gritty details, Shavonne observes the covert injustice and violence toward her and her fellow inmates, many of whom are pregnant or mentally challenged—or both—and all of whom come from broken homes and long for a mother or simply a kind word or touch. She copes with the day-to-day oppression by scheming outlandish plans and lashing out whenever her temper starts to rise. As she nears her 18th birthday, Shavonne is running out of options and faces transfer to an adult facility with no end date in sight.

When Mr. Delpopolo, a man with a troubled past of his own, takes over as her new counselor, Shavonne just may have found the path to the hope she’s been searching for. With a blend of compassion and a no-nonsense attitude, Mr. D. gives her writing exercises that force her to confront her guilt, destructive behaviors and a secret so haunting that she fears she’ll never deserve forgiveness. If Shavonne can prove her worthiness within the Center—and to herself—she may have a shot at making her hope a reality. Shawn Goodman’s intense young adult debut, Something Like Hope, is a painful reminder of America’s teens in trouble and the difference one individual can make.

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