Review of The Hope of Elephants

The Hope of Elephants The Hope of Elephants
by Amanda Rawson Hill
Intermediate    Charlesbridge    480 pp.
9/22    9781623542597    $17.99
e-book ed.  978163289863    $10.99

How does a family live with recurring cancer? Would you want to know if you had that same cancer gene? These questions anchor a powerful verse novel in which twelve-year-old Cass copes with her dad’s serious illness and her mom’s relentless positivity, and counts on best friend Jayla’s steady support. Weaving together genetic research, homeschooling particularities, Christian religious beliefs, and baseball fundamentals, Hill’s portrayal of Cass’s daily life is full of detail. Her inner monologue drives the story forward; free-verse poetry in a variety of forms relies on Cass’s clear first-person voice and creative spacing for effect. Cass grapples with the decision of whether to be tested for the gene. Does she want to know the worst (or best) or does she want to live her life in fear and worry about the unknown? Her situation raises existential questions in ways that are palpable and relevant. Hill delicately balances deep sadness with genuine hopefulness in this distinctive and compelling novel.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sylvia Vardell

Sylvia Vardell is a professor in the School of Library & Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University and author of Children’s Literature in Action, Poetry Aloud Here, A World Full of Poems and the Poetry for Children blog.

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