My enormous thanks to Fiona Brownlee for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for A Little Hope by Ethan Joella. I’m delighted to share my review as part of the tour today.
Published by Muswell Press on 28th April 2022, A Little Hope is available for purchase through the links here.
A Little Hope
A powerful debut from a gifted new voice, Ethan Joella’s writing has been compared to that of Anne Patchett, Elizabeth Strout and Matt Haig.
Set in an idyllic Connecticut town over the course of a year, A Little Hope follows the intertwining lives of a dozen neighbours as they confront everyday desires and fears: an illness, a road not taken, a broken heart, a betrayal.
Freddie and Greg Tyler seem to have it all: a comfortable home at the edge of the woods, a beautiful young daughter, a bond that feels unbreakable. But when Greg is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, the sense of certainty they once knew evaporates overnight. Meanwhile, Darcy Crowley is still coming to terms with the loss of her husband as she worries over her struggling adult son, Luke. Elsewhere, Ginger Lord returns home longing for a lost relationship; Ahmed Ghannam wonders if he’ll ever find true love; and Greg’s boss, Alex Lionel, grapples with a secret of his own.
Celebrating the grace in everyday life, this powerful debut immerses the reader in a community of friends, family, and neighbours and identifies the ways that love and forgiveness can help us survive even the most difficult of life’s challenges.
My Review of A Little Hope
A story of interconnected people.
I don’t actually want to review A Little Hope because I lack the skills to say what a wonderful book it is and I fear sullying the quality of Ethan Joella’s writing. A Little Hope is, quite simply, astonishingly good. I loved this book unreservedly.
A Little Hope is like the most perfectly curated set of exquisite short stories I’ve ever read and yet it’s completely coherent as a single narrative too. Ethan Joella knows with exceptional, breath-taking, ability how the quiet moments are the most profound; how one word can convey a thousand meanings; how the brush of a hand can mean the difference between hope and despair so that reading this book truly is life affecting.
There’s quite a large cast of characters and usually my heart sinks at trying to keep everyone in my head when there are several people to read about. Not so in A Little Hope. I found myself so completely drawn in to the narrative that it was as if I’d known everyone all my life. I related to some, such as Greg and Iris, more than others because their experience mirrors that of people in my own life, but even those like Luke were fantastically clear, knowable and vivid. I experienced every emotion they experienced in a read that is a celebration of humanity in all its triumphs, failures and reality.
Ethan Joella explores emotion and human reaction to the ordinariness of life so beautifully. He illustrates how we are not simply the result of our experiences, but that we have power to choose how to respond to those events, and, even when our decisions might be erroneous, there is always hope. What A Little Hope does is to make the reader feel connected to others in a sublime and humane manner that I found completely compelling.
A Little Hope isn’t a book to read. It’s a book to experience with every emotional fibre of your being. Ethan Joella’s writing is sparse, mesmerising and deeply, deeply affecting so that I’m not entirely sure I’ll recover from reading A Little Hope. Don’t miss it.
About Ethan Joella
Ethan Joella teaches English and psychology at the University of Delaware and leads community writing workshops. His work has appeared in River Teeth, The International Fiction Review, The MacGuffin, Delaware Beach Life, and Third Wednesday. Lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with his wife and two daughters.