Sarah's Stars

Sylvia Olsen. Counting on Hope
Sono Nis Press $14.95 ISBN 978-1-55039-173-2 299 pg.
Reviewed by Jenny, Age 12

But fatherís orders could not contain my dreams.
When I was awake and when I was asleep,
the girl with hair the color of dried grass
lived in my mind:
the way she had thrown her hands up in joy
at the sight of the island,
how she had twirled
and danced up the path from the shell beach.

This book was very different for me as it was written from two different perspectives: one, a white girl named Hope, the other, an Indian girl named Letia. Hope and Letia both live on a little island called Wallace Island, but they live completely different lives. Hope lives with her small family of six on one side of the island, and Letia lives with her family among the Lamalcha people on the other side. They never even knew the other existed until one day when some whiskey traders come along to their little island. They bring stories of the Indians and say that they are killing people like Hopeís family. Hopeís ma is scared by these stories and wishes to leave the island, but Hope and her pa know that the traders just want to stir up trouble. Then one day Hope and Alec (Hopeís little brother) disobey the rules and go onto the Indiansí land. This is where Hope first meets Letia. The two girls become friends instantly, even though they have no knowledge of the otherís language. The traders keep returning to the island, but will Pa finally agree with Ma about leaving even though he knows itís safe? And if people believe the rumours about the Indians, what will become of Letiaís family? Will Hope and Letia ever see each other again?

Counting on Hope is an historical fiction novel for ages 12+. The author is Sylvia Olsen. Sylvia was born and has lived her in Victoria, B.C. Her hobbies are writing (duh), drawing, hiking and knitting. The only goal Sylvia ever had in life was to make the earth a bit better than it was yesterday! Other books by Sylvia Olsen are The Girl with a Baby, Just Ask Us, No Time to Say Goodbye, Which Way Should I Go?, White Girl and Yetsaís Sweater. If youíve read The Breadwinner by Debrah Ellis, I think you would really enjoy Counting on Hope.

Counting on Hope was a great book and was extremely realistic. It had amazing descriptions, so I understood what was happening the WHOLE time, well, except for the start, only because I didnít realize that the story was from two different peopleís perspectives. But after I got that figured out, it made perfect sense, and I loved the way it was written. One thing I know I didnít like about writing from two different peopleís views was that I forgot what had happened in the last chapter about either Hope or Letia. I loved the storyline of Counting on Hope as it was full of suspense and excitement. I found that all the characters fit together well and the story had a great balance between Hopeís life and Letiaís life! The characters changed as the story went on and the author, Sylvia Olsen, made it seem like the characters were alive and were actually growing and maturing as the story grew. Another thing I really liked about it was that the story was set in a place that I kind of know, so it was way easier to relate to. Counting on Hope didnít have as much action as I would have liked, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

I would give Sylvia Olsenís Counting on Hope four stars out of five.

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