Saturday, December 06, 2008
Call Me Hope, by Gretchen Olson
Hardly a day goes by where Hope's mother isn't yelling at her, calling Hope "stupid" or a "dumb shit." As Hope turns 12, she has grown so tense that she grinds her teeth at night and throws up her food. Despite her attempts to please her Mom, nothing seems to work and Hope wonders if she can get by. Taking inspiration from The Diary of Anne Frank and from Life Is Beautiful, she draws parallels between her life and the lives of Jews in the Holocaust.
Written more as an advocacy piece for alerting children to the dangers of verbal abuse, there isn't much room for subtlety in this story. Hope herself is well-developed but most of the other characters (Mom, the school counselor, friends, etc.) are basically just talking heads for the cause. That's a bit of a shame because a more nuanced story would have been more compelling. But the target audience appears to be younger middle school readers and Olson probably wanted to spell things out in black and white.