Author: Shawn Goodman
Format: Book (hardcover from library)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Synopsis: Shavonne is a fierce and desperate seventeen year-old who finds herself in a large juvenile lockup hundreds of miles from home. She wants to turn her life around before she turns eighteen, but her problems seem too big, and time is running out. Amidst corrupt guards, out-of-control girls, and shadows from her past, Shanvonne must find the courage to fight for a redemption she’s not sure she deserves. (Summary From Goodreads)
If I could describe this book in one word it would be riveting. This was a book that grabbed my by the throat and wouldn't let me go until I finished. I haven't experienced a book like that in a long time. I finished it in a few hours where there was nothing but me and the story unfolding in front of me on the pages.
The novel isn't long. It's less than 200 hundred pages. The chapters are short, many less than a few pages. But it's so dense that the length doesn't matter. Shavonne's world, her life and her words, are deep within the pages and they don't leave your mind once you've closed the book.
In some ways this is a terrifying book. The conditions of Shavonne's juvenile detention center are deplorable, almost too awful to imagine but there is a strong authority in the voice of this novel. You can tell this story comes from somebody's heart and true experiences because the story doesn't pull any punches. The author, Shawn Goodman, worked in juvenile detention facilities like the one he describes in the story. I hope that not even one awful thing that the guards do to the girls in there really happen in real life but I think I have to accept the fact that it does.
I just opened the book right now to the back jacket and looked at Goodman's picture in the back. I was honestly surprised to see that there wasn't a young black woman staring at me but an older white man who looks very serene. Like I said, the voice was very authentic. I was swept up by Shavonne's voice and her story and most of all, her pain. It was very vivd, almost overwhelming, just like it felt to her. But the intensity kept me flying through the pages. I had to see how Shavonne was going to push through, how she was going to get her life back together. What I found was that there were no easy solutions.
Despite Shavonne's actions she easily rises as a character you need to root for. It's because below the violence and profanity you can see that's she's just a victim of a very awful life and this is apparent early on. Even Shavonne doesn't understand why she acts the way she does. So instead of being angry with her you want to sympathize with her and senf her the hope and love she so desperately needs.
My other favorite character was Mr. Delpopolo who seemed just as broken and sad and lost as Shavonne at sometimes. But he's also strong in his own way and he's one of the few adults in the novel that's actually likeable. The other adults such as the guards, the ones in charge, are everyone's enemy. It's hard to understand some of the incidents that go down in the Center because told through Shavonne's eyes everything is unsurprising even though to the outsider these actions seem pretty horrific.
It's an intense novel, full of all the emotions that Shavonne will and will not let herself feel. When I got the end I didn't want to turn the last page. I needed to keep going with Shavonne on her journey. There was so much more to learn. It ended all too soon. That's my only concern about the novel.
This isn't an easy story to read. It might leave you angry with the world or wondering about the things that happened in your own life and how they can haunt your past and your future but I recommend this book to you because once you finish you will be glad you read it. It'll show you a different side to life whether you've experienced something like this or not. Maybe you'll relate to Shavonne's story more than you think.
So go get Something Like Hope and read it as soon as you can. I know when I go to sleep tonight that Shavonne's words will still be on my mind.