Living on Hope Street

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Demet Divaroren, Living on Hope Street, Allen & Unwin, June 2017,  256pp.,  $19.99 (pbk),  ISBN: 9781760292096

The residents of Hope Street have a dream of a better life. Kane, Sam and their mother Angie hope to escape the horror of family violence. Kane is determined his father won’t be coming back, not after what he’s just done to his mum. He’s going to protect his mother and little brother even if it means becoming a monster like his dad.

Old Mrs Aslan, their Turkish neighbour has lived alone in the street since her husband died and her daughter left. She gives all her love to Angie and the boys now, hoping one day her daughter and grand daughter will return.

On the opposite side of the street Gugu and her family have just moved in. They are refugees from Africa and although they have arrived with nothing, they are hopeful of a better life away from the terrors of war.

Mr Bailey however doesn’t like what’s happening to his suburb. A grandfather and Vietnam Veteran. he finds it difficult to understand these new people with their strange names and ways of doing things. He just hopes that all the foreigners will go somewhere else.

Living on Hope Street is a narrative told through many voices, with Kane and his family at its nucleus, each chapter alternates between the residents of the street; each voice providing a perspective on their shared hopes and struggles.

As a Turkish immigrant, teacher and co-editor of the anthology Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia, Divaroren brings her wealth of experience to this beautifully written story that explores, with empathy and humour, some of the difficult issues confronting contemporary Australian suburban life.  A terrific debut novel. Highly recommended for ages 14+.

Teachers’ Tips can be found on the Allen & Unwin website.

Reviewed by Mem Capp

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