Hope Nicely's Lessons for Life

'An absolute joy' - Sarah Haywood

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Pub Date 22 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 22 Jul 2021

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Completely unique concept and writing style - written in the voice of Hope who has FAS (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome)

'I don't have any friends, only dog ones, because they don't make you do bad things. I don't want any human friends, actually. It's for the best.'

Hope Nicely hasn't had an easy life.

But she's happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people's dogs. She's a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she's a rainbow person, a special drop of light.

It's just . . . there's something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing, but will also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.

But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .

Hope Nicely's Lessons for Life is a heartwarming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.

Completely unique concept and writing style - written in the voice of Hope who has FAS (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome)

'I don't have any friends, only dog ones, because they don't make you do bad things. I...

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ISBN 9781838772710
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Average rating from 44 members

Featured Reviews

Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher. How I enjoyed this book, made me smile and especially Hope Nicely. Great storyline and a real good feel factor. Loved it

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Hope Nicely is a 25 year old woman on the foetal alcohol spectrum. She decides that she wants to contact her birth mother and ask why she drank while pregnant and why she left Hope in a cardboard box and the best way to get in touch with her birth mother is to write a book about herself. Hope joins a creative writing class to work on getting her story out. The book is written from Hope's perspective and it is done very well because although Hope isn't self aware, enough clues are given to show what is actually going on. I'm not sure of the writers experience with the syndrome but I found it informative and hopefully it gave me a bit more understanding about the condition. I found that I read this really quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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What a unique book about something I know nothing about. I adored it and I adored Hope, I can’t say enough good things about this book.

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This is such a special kind of book. Foetal alcohol syndrome is not very well know, not many people realise the impact of this syndrome on people’s lives. Such a brave topic to write about, on top of the issues raised over adoption and finding birth parents. In fact there is so much going on in this books it’s hard to keep up. Growing up, seeking birth parents, coping with foetal alcohol syndrome and then losing a loved one. This book is such an emotional roller coaster. The main character is so adorable, you just want life to work out for her. For her to feel loved after years of bullying. I’m so pleased the author chose to write about all these topics as these are subjects which need to be talked about more.

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I was more than a bit unsure about this when I started reading it, that is until I got used to Hope’s voice and frankly her thought processes blew me away. Told with such naivety and honesty the way Hope thought things through was written so well this could easily have been the voice of a real person rather than a character. Although the plot is simple Hope’s character just shines through and the support she receives from the other characters is beautiful. For me this was a compulsive read and Hope is a character I won’t forget in a hurry.

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Hope Nicely lives with her adoptive mother Jenny Nicely at 23a Station Close Harpenden and her uniqueness leaps out at you from the first moment she introduces herself. Newly enrolled at a writing class led by Marnie Shale,Hope is someone keen to write her own memoir, in a bid to understand why her birth mother abandoned her as a baby. Hope who has a ‘real job’ walking dogs but has limited interaction of the human kind (apart from mum Jenny) is affected by foetal alcohol syndrome which contributes to her very special way of inhabiting this world. She desperately tries to live by the golden rules Jenny has instilled in her but it’s a constant daily battle and one that worsens when her mum falls ill and is rushed to hospital. Hope Nicely’s Lessons For Life is one young woman’s story of coping with dramatic upheaval in an ordinarily regimented life whilst offering her opportunities for new found friendships and the realisation that she is brilliant just the way she is. Hope Nicely is a character to treasure in a storyline overflowing with positivity. This novel is funny, tragic and utterly awesome and I hope (pun intended!) you’ll love it as much as I did. Parts of this storyline are set within the confines of the classroom as Hope and her fellow students learn valuable lessons in how to write, whatever their chosen genre,scenes which described from Hope’s perspective are hilarious. It’s through this group of individuals Hope meets some wonderful people destined to accept her regardless of her differences, providing love and support through a stressful and traumatic period. Plus it’s an element of the storyline that may prove to be way more enlightening for Hope than she could ever expect. The charming Danny Flynn is the first person to come to Hope’s rescue, inviting her into his family home and it’s here with his mum Bridget and brother Connor that life really opens up for Hope. Her uniqueness makes this young woman perfect in my eyes; she’s a dream character and an absolute darling. She may be small in stature with a jumble sale forever going on in her head but with her flitty memory, her special way of interpreting conversations and understanding of words in general Hope is an irrepressible character. She’s the kind of person to bring out your motherly instincts; I just wanted to wrap her up in cotton wool and protect her from the all the horribleness of her current situation, and all the uncertainty that accompanies her until Jenny Nicely could hopefully resume her caring role,right as rain. Hope is the best thing that ever happened to Jenny Nicely (as Hope frequently reminds you) and it took no effort on my behalf to regard Hope in the same way her mum does; as an extraordinary drop of light. The reader is given every opportunity to laugh out loud at Hope’s grasp of social situations and the ways in which she tries to moderate her behaviour, often with limited success and laugh out loud I did!! Written almost as if Hope is struggling to pause for breath, words pouring forth like a stream of consciousness, gloriously muddled, the author is celebrating Hope’s differences and inviting the reader to see the real person behind the shouting and screaming, the counting and sitting on hands which are just some of Hope’s strategies for coping with her jumbled brain. Aside from the overwhelmingly comic tone the author has adopted I couldn’t help thinking along more serious lines that life for people like Hope and their carers must be completely exhausting as well as rewarding and challenging. Although Hope is mostly frightened by her sudden change in circumstances I found her so inspiring. Although Hope manages to outshine all the other characters in this novel the author has excelled in surrounding her with equally delightful, funny, kind and welcoming individuals with Connor Flynn a worthy contender against Hope in the race for your affection. They (mostly) all compliment her personality, embrace her uniqueness and add to the specialness of the storyline whilst allowing Hope’s voice to be heard loud and clear. These characters simply allow her to be her own unique self. Marnie Shale herself, the majority of the writing class students, particularly Veronica Ptitsky, the Flynn family including Barry, Hope’s newest loyal doggy friend and Julie, her social worker all restore your faith in human nature and the calming effects of a canine friend. This novel, unbelievably a debut given how superbly written it is,is a triumph and I can only extend my heartfelt thanks to the author for bringing Hope into existence because I loved every single minute that I spent in her company. I also applaud the author for educating me about a condition that I have never given much thought to, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I just cannot imagine how the author will follow up this first novel but I’m expecting the future to look very bright as she builds upon what surely will become one of 2021 runaway successes. Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a glittery gem of a novel that you MUST read. As Hope would say it’s fan-tanty - tastic so these 5 stars don’t do the author’s writing justice! My thanks as always to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read.

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A beautifully written heart warming story. Hope is a very engaging character and I loved reading about her. Thank you to NetGalley for my copy.

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A wonderfully written and engaging book. The character is well written and could easily have been completely clueless and obnoxious, yet to give Day the upmost credit she writes in a fantastic way you maintain engaged and intrigued. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I wasn’t sure this book would be for me but Day pulled me into Hope’s world so quickly that I read the whole thing in a day. Hope Nicely joins a writing class in order to write her autobiography, in the hopes it will help her find the birth mother who abandoned her after drinking throughout her pregnancy, which led to Hope’s Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. Day does a fantastic job of putting the reader right inside Hope’s ‘jumble sale’ brain and compassionately and empathetically shows the reader how Hope has struggled with the world but also why she is so special and loved. There are a couple of really suspenseful events in the book with a real undercurrent of humour throughout. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, I loved this read and highly recommend.

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Hope Nicely has been left with a "muddled brain" due to her alcoholic mother. She needs support with daily life, The story is told in her words ,very funny at times, when she gets words muddled up. She wants to write her autobiography to tell her life story and find out why her birth mother left her in a cardboard box. The book really gives an insight into how those with learning difficulties might see the world and their lives. Very sad at times and gives the reader empathy with them whilst not belittling their role in society. Well worth reading.

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Wow, what a wonderful book Life through the eyes and everyday life of Hope who has a learning disability. A glimpse in to the struggles she faces in the setting of a writing workshop. Abandoned by her birth mother and suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, adopted by her real mum, as Hope calls her. She is trying to find her birth mother by writing her life story but life throws a few curves. They will make you anxious and worried about the outcome for Hope. Enjoy right to the very end and swallow that emotional lump in your throat.

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Hope Nicely's story is powerful. That is the first thing I need to say. It isn't powerful in that whole knock you over with drama kind of way. It is subtle and quiet but it has the lasting kind of power. Hope Nicely has a medical condition. She has FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), for those who don't know a lot about this - I myself am someone who doesn't know enough - this means that she has a developmental disorder which makes every day life a little bit harder for her. She sets out with a mission to write her autobiography with the belief that her birth mum will find it, read it and explain why she abandoned her. The book follows a certain period of her life that challenges her in ways that people with developmental issues would find distressing but we watch how she Hope Nicely deals with these challenges. It is a wonderful coming of age story and gives the reader an insight into the world of someone with this condition. I have worked with students with this disorder and I feel having read this book I now feel I have a more lived in experience of what they may be going through or how they see the world. I feel that I have gained a lot more empathy for having read this story and for that I thank Caroline Day for writing it. Hope Nicely's Lessons for Life by Caroline Day is available from 22nd July 2021. For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

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