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Hopeless in Hope

By Wanda John-Kehewin
Imprint: HighWater Press

Categories: Young Adult Fiction, Aboriginal & Indigenous, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Orphans & Foster Homes
Big Ideas: Aspects of Indigenous Cultures, Smudging, Contemporary Setting, Diverse and Inclusive Representation, Anxiety, Depression and Suicide, Addiction, Literary Studies, Social Emotional Learning, Self-Expression, Creative Writing, and Art, Social Justice, Family Separation, Foster Care and the Child Welfare System, Intergenerational Trauma, Poverty, Residential Schools, Self-Esteem and Self-Reliance, Strong Female Characters
Cultures & Peoples: Cree

Interest Age: 12+
Grade: 8–12
Reading Level: Fountas & Pinnell Z+, Lexile® Framework for Reading: 760L
Paperback : 9781774920831, 216 pages, September 2023
Ebook (PDF) : 9781774920848, 216 pages, October 2023
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781774920855, 216 pages, October 2023

Fourteen-year-old Eva’s life is like her shoes: rapidly falling apart.


We live in a hopeless old house on an almost-deserted dead-end street in a middle-of-nowhere town named Hope. This is the oldest part of Hope; eventually it will all be torn down and rebuilt into perfect homes for perfect people. Until then, we live here: imperfect people on an imperfect street that everyone forgets about.

For Eva Brown, life feels lonely and small. Her mother, Shirley, drinks and yells all the time. She’s the target of the popular mean girl, and her only friend doesn’t want to talk to her anymore. All of it would be unbearable if it weren’t for her cat, Toofie, her beloved nohkum, and her writing, which no one will ever see.

When Nohkum is hospitalized, Shirley struggles to keep things together for Eva and her younger brother, Marcus. After Marcus is found wandering the neighbourhood alone, he is sent to live with a foster family, and Eva finds herself in a group home.

Furious at her mother, Eva struggles to adjust—and being reunited with her family seems less and less likely. During a visit to the hospital, Nohkum gives Eva Shirley’s diary. Will the truths it holds help Eva understand her mother?

Heartbreaking and humorous, Hopeless in Hope is a compelling story of family and forgiveness.


  • Short-listed, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize 2024


Wanda John-Kehewin handles complicated characters and tough situations with a clear-eyed sensitivity and grace. This story will wring out your heart, then hang it to dry in a sliver of sun.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi, author of Me and Banksy

If being able to hold two contrasting thoughts in your mind makes you a genius, Nevaeh is a genius. She sees who people really are—and who they want to be—and learns to open her heart to them no matter what. The pages of Hopeless in Hope end up being filled with the best kind of hope—hope that grows from a heart feeling full and right even when life pitches us around.

Alison Acheson, author of Dance Me to the End

Among featured titles for SLJ Webcasts Spring Teen & Young Adult Book Buzz

School Library Journal

It’s wonderful to read an author who so artfully channels the voice of youth. As Eva navigates serious challenges like living in a group home and being separated from her family, she observes the world around her, learning lessons about love, the ties of family and friendship, the unfairness of poverty, and the power of finding your voice. Oh, and also soup—the tremendous healing power of a bowl of homemade soup.

Jennifer Moss, UBC Creative Writing Instructor and New Media Storyteller

An intense, compact and ultimately hopeful narrative that looks deeply into the complexity of foster care and the legacy of colonization.

Chris Gustafson, High School Librarian

A tender and even humorous coming-of-age story...a resonant story of healing, belonging, and persisting despite the odds.

Kirkus Reviews

4.5 out 5 stars. A very moving and believable story revealing life for Indigenous people...but also kids who live in very damaged families...realistic and inspiring.

Katrina Yurenka, Youth Services Book Review