Review: Rare to the “familiar” reading material that finds a place on my shelves, this book first inspired interest when I saw the cover – eclipsed in its lovely design was a kind of “pull” for would-be readers, not only was it pretty from an artistic angle, it also seemed to compel us to discover what was in-between that outer image – to, in a sense, give chase to what promised to be an emotional story. That is exactly what Chasing Hope turns out to be. It follows two young women – a 22-year-old college student named Sabrina with a broken past and 16-year-old Brandy, a tough girl with an attitude to match – who are brought together by a strange twist of fate. By a favor to her grandmother, Sabrina finds herself saddled with being a training running coach to the rebellious teen – a relationship that unleashes Sabrina’s own regrets and missed dreams.
Notwithstanding its strong start and great story, much disappointment was my reaction during the second half of the novel – despite it’s great promise, it can be summed up in three acts; girls meet, they train. Girl worries over passing her classes and shuts everyone out to study. Girl recklessly throws away a second chance, leaving only worry in her wake. Sounding disrespectful to the story isn’t my intention – through this review, all I am attempting to do is convey my honest to goodness impression of it. What’s good is like a ray of sunshine. The most prominent and beautiful thing about it is the depiction of friendship – it’s imperfect yet grows stronger by those mistakes. Similarly, it’s allowed to blossom by being stripped down to its most raw emotions; there are no subplots to distract from it or very few.
In Sabrina there is a consummate professional who on the outside seems to have it all together. She is studious and rarely complains regardless of her day-to-day pain, both physical and emotional. In Brandy a troubled, unhappy girl is present. She lashes out at the people who most care about her while turning to the people who most wish to bring her down – to destroy her sense of well-being and all she could accomplish. These two total opposites are the two extraordinary young women who somehow manage to work past differences and scars to, in no small way save one another. The “getting there” is quiet and sometimes painful to read because of that, however once a reader reaches that pinnacle and realizes what a full circle the novel has made, it’s safe to say that the story isn’t just an inspiring work of fiction, it’s a lesson that in some form we each should reach for.
Synopsis: A Personal Drama of Shattered Dreams and Second Chances
A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice’s future was shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running–something that’s become far too painful to think on.
Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist. When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy’s best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled…that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl
With thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.