Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren
We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door – or even closer.
Kane will do everything he can to save his mother and his little brother Sam from the violence of his father, even if it means becoming a monster himself.
Mrs Aslan will protect the boys no matter what – even though her own family is in pieces.
Ada wants a family she can count on, while she faces new questions about herself.
Mr Bailey is afraid of the refugees next door, but his worst fear will take another form.
And Gugulethu is just trying to make a life away from terror.
On this street, everyone comes from different places, but to find peace they will have to discover what unites them.
A deeply moving, unflinching portrait of modern Australian suburban life.
Where to get it: All good bookstores
When can I get my hands on it: Out now!
What can I expect: Domestic violence, refugees, racism, confusion on sexual orientation
This book revolves around a few characters, with all their stories tying in together. Each chapter is dedicated to a different character, describing the events that take place through their eyes.
First we have Sam and Kane, two brothers who live with an abusive father and a loving mother. As a result of the abuse Sam, the younger sibling, suffers from a number of side effects including nightmares and not being able to control his bladder when frightened.
Gugu is the young African refugee who lives next door with her family. They migrated to Australia after losing their home to rebels in Africa.
Mrs Aslan is the Turkish grandmother who lives next door to Kane and Sam and takes care of them when their mother can’t.
Ada is Mrs Aslan’s estranged teenage granddaughter who is unsure of her sexuality and confused about where she fits.
Mr bailey is an old Australian man who has a very white washed view of the world. He is not very accepting of people from a different ethnicity to his own.
Together, these characters make up the residents of hope street. The book covers the events that transpire after Kane and Sam’s mum finally decides to press charges against her abusive husband. The novel is very well written for a debut novel and gives a window into the effects of domestic violence. I think Divaroren was able to provide an honest portrayal of how difficult it is to remove oneself from a violent home.
I really enjoyed Ada’s story and how difficult it can be for second generation migrants to grow up Australian while still conforming to the ideas and traditions of their parents. Mr Bailey was also portrayed really well. Divaroren was able to portray racism that resulted from ignorance as opposed to hatred. Mr bailey is not a malicious man just a man who has a very narrow view of the world.
This book is marketed as young adult; however it does have some confronting themes in it. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under 15. All in all I really enjoyed this book. The ending was realistic as opposed to a typical happy ending where everything is ok. It fit well with the theme of the novel. I think Divaroren is definitely an author to keep your eye on. This was a great read.
Final rating: 4/5