Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Young Adult Fiction Siblings

Finding Hope Teachers' Guide

Dundurn Teachers' Guide

by (author) Koreena Audette

Initial publish date
Jul 2018
Siblings, Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Friendship
Recommended Age
12 to 15
Recommended Grade
7 to 10
Recommended Reading age
12 to 15
  • Unknown

    Publish Date
    Jul 2018

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


2016 VOYA Top Shelf Fiction Selection
CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens (Fall 2016) — Starred Selection
Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.
Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.
At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.

About the author


  • Commended, CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens, Starred Selection (Fall 2016)
  • Commended, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers

Contributor Notes

Colleen Nelson is an award-winning YA author whose previous books include The Fall and Tori by Design, both of which won the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award from the Manitoba Book Awards. This is Colleen’s fourth YA novel. She lives in Winnipeg.

Excerpt: Finding Hope Teachers' Guide: Dundurn Teachers' Guide (by (author) Koreena Audette)


Mom brandished an envelope above her head like a flag. “A letter just came for you.”

I’d been waiting a month for that letter. Hopping off my bicycle, I let it tumble to the grass. Dry and scrubby, it crackled from lack of water. The summer had stretched endlessly and only now, with the hum of bugs in the air, did it show signs of coming to a close. “It’s like someone didn’t get the memo,” Dad liked to say when the seasons didn’t follow his timetable. Last two weeks of August should have meant deer flies and cooler nights, a hint of the chill that would be coming with autumn, but not this year.

I took the sealed envelope from her. “It’s thick, that’s a good sign,” she said, her hands on my shoulders, not realizing how hard she was squeezing.

My hands shook. The tear I made was ragged and the letter got stuck. Finally, I pulled it free and unfolded it. “Ravenhurst School for Girls is pleased to inform you that you have been accepted for the coming school year.” I didn’t read past those words. Mom started screaming and hugging me.

I waited to feel something. A gush of relief or flood of emotion, but there was nothing. Instead, I felt more rooted to the ragged wooden planks on the porch. A stubborn will to stay.

“Congratulations, Hope!” Mom said and pulled me into another hug. The letter was stuck between us, my arm at an awkward angle.

Ravenhurst had been Mom’s idea. She’d done the research to find a school that took boarders in the city and then laid out her plan over dinner one night, peering at me with her fork hanging in mid-air. “Wouldn’t you want to go there?” she’d asked. I looked at Dad, head down, shovelling mac and cheese into his mouth. “Get out of this place.” She waved her fork around, as if “this place” meant nothing more than our house. Her eyes bugged out, begging me to agree with her.

“Uh-huh,” I said. I didn’t realize that my non-committal grunt would start a two-month long odyssey. Acceptance to a private school in the city meant letters from teachers, an exam, and then an interview. Mom had bought a navy, pleated skirt for me to wear and flat black shoes that pinched my toes. I’d hobbled through the atrium of the school, gazing up at a two-storey foyer encased in glass. Sunlight streamed in, reflecting off the marble floors. Our footsteps echoed, too small to fill the cavernous space.

I wasn’t kidding myself, Mom wanted this more than I did. As usual, I’d gone along with her plans, not wanting to be the one who upset the delicate balance that existed in our family.

Our splintered family.

Editorial Reviews

Through brief alternating chapters told by Hope and Eric, Nelson conveys Hope’s naiveté and innocence, as well as the gritty truth about Eric and the trigger for his addiction.


The prose is simple, yet elegant, and readers will appreciate the dual meaning of the title, in Hope’s self-discovery, and the literal need for the characters to find hope.

Canadian Children's Book News

Steeped in emotional torment.

Publishers Weekly

? Both heartbreaking and hopeful, this will be a popular choice among mature readers of realistic fiction, particularly fans of Ellen Hopkins’s “Crank” series.

School Library Journal (Starred Review)

…an arresting read that adeptly tackles the dark, weighty subjects of bullying, drug addiction, sexual assault, homelessness and loss. Told in simple yet striking prose, peppered throughout with Hope’s haunting poetry, Finding Hope offers an engaging brother-sister narrative, flawed yet relatable characters, and a convincing, well-paced plot that succeeds in laying bare a fractured family’s harrowing struggle with addiction, and one young woman’s achingly real odyssey of self-discovery and healing.

Quill & Quire

For suspense and gritty realism … Finding Hope takes top marks.

Winnipeg Free Press

The silence and shame around sexual abuse infuses this novel with an aching loss for what could have been but now is lost. Both this abuse and the online texting of sexual pictures reflects dangers faced by the intended audience, who will no doubt pass this book eagerly from hand to hand.

Resource Links

…a well-plotted, fast-moving little angst tornado of a read.

Globe and Mail