The Hope of Elephants

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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 06 Sep 2022

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Description

An inspiring coming-of-age novel in verse about weathering the uncertainty that comes with family illness perfect for fans of Starfish and Red, White, and Whole.

Cass and her parents haven’t let her dad’s cancer stop them from having a good life—full of love and poems and one annual World Series game. Now that Dad’s cancer is back, Cass overhears the doctor say that she has a 50% chance of inheriting her dad's genetic mutation, Li-Fraumeni syndrome. There’s a genetic test Cass can take that will tell her for sure. There’s still so much she wants to do—play baseball, study at the zoo, travel the world with her best friend, Jayla. Would it be better not to know?
 
When it turns out Dad’s cancer is worse this time, Cass is determined to keep up their World Series tradition while navigating all the change and uncertainty that lies ahead.
 
Poignant and powerful, Cass’s story brings the pains and anxiety linked with illness to the surface, and reminds us that sometimes hope is worth holding on to.









 
An inspiring coming-of-age novel in verse about weathering the uncertainty that comes with family illness perfect for fans of Starfish and Red, White, and Whole.

Cass and her parents haven’t let her...

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ISBN 9781623542597
PRICE $17.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

What a heartfelt story about Cass and her family coping with her dad’s cancer. Cass remembers dad telling her “there’s something good in every situation.” When her dad’s cancer returns, she finds out there’s a 50% chance of her inheriting the same gene mutation. Cass and her dad have an annual tradition of attending the World Series, and she’s worried it won’t happen this year. She reminds herself, “life is hopes, dreams…and miracles.” She comes up with an idea for them to attend. Will it happen? Will dad be still around for it to happen?

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The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill
I was reluctant to take on this review, because I inevitably ask two questions of novels in verse: is this good enough poetry that it holds up the weight of a novel? And is there a compelling reason to tell this story in verse? I’ve never been able to answer both of those questions with a yes. And in the case of The Hope of Elephants, while I can give a positive review, I’m frustrated because it could have been as good or better in prose, or with poems interspersed through prose. There is some rewardingly deft verse here, but for other long spans the story is prose with line breaks. I might be an old fart on this topic – but that’s my takeaway. So, to be fair to the author I’m going to set aside the issue of middle grade novels in verse, which will always elicit an all caps WHYYY? from me, and move on.
The story itself is fantastic – I wanted to know what happened to Cass, how she coped with her dad’s illness and her fears for her own future. I wanted to discover how she made peace with her mom, and with herself. It is the kind of story that a middle grade reader who tells a librarian “I want to find more sad books” will savor.
At times, Cass comes off as younger than her twelve years, but she’s interesting and the interactions with the friends she’s made who are also the kids of a parent with cancer are one of my favorite things in the book. Her friendship with Jayla is credible, too.
Along with my praise for the depth of the story and the frankness with which it handles terminal illness, I’d also offer a heads up – for readers who aren’t religious, there is more religion here than they might be used to in contemporary middle-grade novels, and for a reader who is raised to be skeptical it may feel heavy handed at times, or it may detract from the story itself. I’m not saying that a twelve year old can’t be deeply committed to her church, but most kids that age go through a place of questioning, complaining, or at least mild disinterest. Depending on their own upbringing and beliefs, the reader may have questions for Cass that the story doesn’t answer.
Hill does a nice job of bringing in references to books and poetry, and the verse she writes is beautiful in places. She uses white space nicely and plays with the way the words on the page work to emphasize dichotomies, choices, anxiety.
In the end, this is a deep and satisfying story that leaves the reader with room for hope. There is no closure here, though, and for some middle grade readers this may cause anxiety. This is a book that bears talking about, and I am so pleased I gave it a chance in spite of my feelings about novels in verse.
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is a collection of poems that tells a compelling and important story. The presentation of each of the poems enhanced the narrative and made it more dynamic revealing the complexity of relationships and the subject matter covered. Although the story is heart-wrenching, the book is incredibly enjoyable.

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I haven’t read many books in verse, but this was so great!!! This story was so touching with how it handled and addressed a terminal illness, but left me wanting so much more at the end.

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The Hope of Elephants is a beautiful middle grade novel in verse. It's an important story the explores the effects of terminal illness on a family and how children must learn to cope and adapt and try to carve out some happiness for themselves. I was somewhat surprised by the prominent role that religion plays in the novel and typically middle grade novels tend to shy away from this, but I think this is something that many readers will be able to relate to. Cass must navigate some difficult decisions like to play on the team and risk bringing home germs or not, whether to to give up on the World Series or not, and most importantly whether to have a gene test or not. The repetitive nature of Cass's list of pros and cons makes it clear how much this last decision weighs on her because the stakes are so high. I found myself rooting for Cass and unable to put this novel down.

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Cass's dad has been dealing with cancer for almost a decade. At his most recent trip to the hospital, she overhears the doctor's saying that Cass might have the gene that could make her get cancer over and over again, too. She struggles between being supportive of her dad, trying to decide if she should get the test, and being a good friend. As she sees what her dad is going through, it makes it harder for her to decide whether or not to get the test.

I thought this was such an interesting perspective to take for a book. There are several books with kids dealing with cancer in their family, and a few who are dealing with it themselves. But this book is unique in how it presents the option for a young person to find out whether or not they're more susceptible to cancer. The power of knowing is sometimes a burden.

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A heart-wrenching middle grade story in verse about a family facing cancer over and over again due to a genetic mutation. The characters feel authentic and the protagonist's struggles will be very relatable to young readers. Have tissues handy while reading!

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May you always find hope. May you always find life in the little moments. When you are feeling split in two, remember that you are still just one and your life is worth living.

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Cass and her family never know when the dreaded C word will take a seat at their table again. Her father just can't seem to go very long without cancer landing back into their lives and taking over. From the treatments to all of the disinfecting, Cass's life turns upside down and sideways whenever her dad is diagnosed with a new form of the disease. Baseball and her friends are the only things she has that are a steady force in her life until she meets Hazel, an elephant at the zoo who shares a secret with Cass.
Amanda Rawson Hill brings a very tough topic to the forefront for middle grade readers in this beautiful novel told in poetry. It will be a great resource for kids going through a tough time like Cass or for kids going through any sort of struggle. Rawson Hill captures Cass as a real 12 year old, not simply a character in a book.

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The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill
I’m kind of a sucker for a sad book but I’m also kind of a sucker for elephants. I’ve always loved them so when I spotted this book on Netgalley and then recognized the author as a Twitter pal I decided I needed to read it. Well it absolutely didn’t disappoint in the sad category or the elephant one.
My favorite thing about this story is the back and forth with the decision that Cass has to make. I think moral dilemmas like this make for fascinating stories and it really exercises a kid’s brain to puzzle them out. I call it “difficulty of concept” and I really believe books should get rated on this instead of readability scores. A book that has a difficult concept, where the answers aren’t black and white, does more for a young reader than a book with complex vocabulary. (Fwiw, this book is rife with rich vocabulary too!)
I think Amanda does a splendid job showing readers how a big decision can be both right and wrong, depending on the circumstances.
Cancer and religious faith play a big role in this book. I would make sure that cancer is not too much of a trigger for youngsters before you hand it to them, but there are some really authentic and real bits that could be comforting and maybe cathartic for kids who know this path. And I think we shy away from books that mention Christian faith because it seems like a voice that doesn’t need help being heard, but so many kids walk this life, to ignore it completely feels weird too. I love that the family’s faith was strong without being oppressive and that they were free to question it without judgement.
Finally, the verse here is breathtaking. I love how other poets and novels are woven throughout, anchoring this story. This story in prose would’ve been too much, too hard. It’s still a lot and really hard but the verse gives you space to fill in the unsaid bits with your own experiences and emotion which makes it more personal but somehow less hard…don’t ask me how that works because I have no idea.
I really loved this book and I’ll be putting a copy on my shelf right between Tuck Everlasting and The One And Only Ivan…feels like a great spot for a paper elephant enthusiast with a big decision to make!

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“The Hope of Elephants” 🐘 ⚾️ is a middle grade novel by Amanda Rawson Hill which is due to be released September 6, 2022.

“The Hope of Elephants” is a realistic fiction novel about family. The story is told by Cass. Cass loves baseball, her friends, an elephant at the zoo named Hazel, and her friends. She loves her parents. Her dad has been battling cancer most of Cass’s life. Different cancers. And the cancer is back. A tradition the family has is going to the World Series. Cass desperately doesn’t want to give up this tradition. And she struggles with a decision about her own future.

This was a book I started and did not put down until I finished. It is just beautifully written. Emotional. Powerful.

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Cass is no stranger to hospitals and cancer treatments. Her dad battles cancer every other year of her life. Through support groups, friendships, and baseball, she finds a way to cope. However this time around, it's different. She faces tough decisions about how this disease impacts her present (baseball practice), the near future (attend World Series), or adulthood (genetics). This stunning novel in verse is a treasure. From the lyrical language to the raw emotion, readers will not want to put this book down. This book will have readers reflecting on their own families and friendships, taking them deep into Cass' emotional arc. Most of all, this book instills hope––something we all need more of in our lives. Those who love sports books, characters with agency, novels in verse, and family stories will gravitate towards The Hope of Elephants.

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If you had a chance to know whether or not you were predisposed to a fatal disease, would you choose to find out?

The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill is a middle grade novel in verse that takes on some tough topics.

Cass is a twelve year old girl with a dark cloud over her home. Her father has gone through multiple bouts of cancer. This time, when he is diagnosed again, he learns that he is so susceptible due to a faulty gene. What's worse is that there is a 50% chance that Cass also has that faulty gene.

As her father takes a turn for the worse, she is left to decide if it would be better or worse to know. I recently lost a close friend to cancer and it did make this book hit harder than I expected, especially since she also had a genetic disposition for it.

I'm the type that I would absolutely want to know, but watching the young protagonist struggle through her decisions and find hope in the darkness around her was heartbreaking.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and @netgalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Hope of Elephants is a beautiful middle grade novel in verse. It's an important story the explores the effects of terminal illness on a family and how children must learn to cope and adapt and try to carve out some happiness for themselves. I was somewhat surprised by the prominent role that religion plays in the novel and typically middle grade novels tend to shy away from this, but I think this is something that many readers will be able to relate to. Cass must navigate some difficult decisions like to play on the team and risk bringing home germs or not, whether to to give up on the World Series or not, and most importantly whether to have a gene test or not. The repetitive nature of Cass's list of pros and cons makes it clear how much this last decision weighs on her because the stakes are so high. I found myself rooting for Cass and unable to put this novel down.

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My thanks to NetGalley and Charlesbridge for the advanced reader copy.

Author Amanda Rawson Hill quickly introduces cancer itself as a major character in this verse novel, an unwelcome but frequent visitor to 12 year old Cass' family. This time feels different, scarier and more deadly. When Cass overhears doctors talking with her parents, she discovers her dad lacks a cancer-fighting gene - and the condition is hereditary, meaning she may or may not be susceptible to recurring bouts with cancer herself. She can be tested to find out, but should she take the test?

Cass spends much of the story grappling with this impossible decision while trying to get her dad to one last World Series. Author Hill takes the reader on Cass' decision-making process through often gut-wrenching but always gorgeous verse. <i>The Hope of Elephants</i> is an honest look at how cancer can both disrupt and fortify a family.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this novel in verse.

The Hope of Elephants is a truly lovely novel in verse that does an amazing job capturing the pain of a family struggling with cancer treatments, unknown genetic destiny, and a love of baseball. This book is sure to be a staple in many school and classroom libraries.

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Thank you to Amanda Rawson Hill, Charlesbridge Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wow. Wow. Wow. I mean, what an incredibly powerful story. The emotion, very raw emotion, was so real. I truly felt like I was experiencing cancer through a 10-12 year olds eyes.

The writing was phenomenal. The verses went from heavy and gut-wrenching to light and playful. Hill seriously took you on that emotional rollercoaster that is a preteen.

I was hooked from the very beginning and the authors note, I have no words. Thank you, Amanda Rawson Hill for so beautifully sharing your family’s story with us. I know this will impact people for years to come on another level.

I’m honestly not a huge fan of sad stories, but this one, I will be suggesting this one to my students, friends and family as soon as it comes out in September.

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A powerful middle grade novel which will be a popular choice for book clubs and discussion groups. Readers will empathize with the weighty decision Cass must face and the impact of her father's illness on her ability to live the life of a "normal" teenager. There is so much meaty content here-- friendship, acceptance of differences, appreciation of animals, religion, and devastating illness. The love of baseball ties many of these themes together and this, along with the novel-in-verse style, helps to make it an accessible read. Hopeful and thought=provoking; this one is a winner.

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