Book Review and Giveaway of HOPE GIRL by Wendy Dunham

by Sally Matheny

HOPE GIRL Book Review & Giveaway
Do you remember what it was like to be twelve years old? It’s not the easiest stage in life. Often times, tweens long for their lives to be different, be better.

The main character of Hope Girl, River Starling, zeroes in on several things she’d like to change.
It’s taken most of her life to find her biological parents, now River's number one goal is to reunite with them and become a family again. But it’s not going to be easy. Her mother has amnesia and her father is about to marry someone else!

River longs to talk with her best friend, but he’s gone. Just when she thinks things can’t get worse, she discovers she’s going to have to wear a back brace for a curved spine.  And her grandmother, the one who raised her, has moved to an assisted living facility.

River experiences one trial after another. Although usually persistent in nature, she begins to lose hope of her lifelong dream coming true.

Through a series of surprising events, her family and a new friend help River learn about forgiveness, acceptance, and courage.   

How does River find peace when she realizes  God’s plan is different than hers? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

I liked this Christian, paperback book published by Harvest House. Hope Girl, written by Wendy Dunham, is the sequel to her first book, My Name is River. You can read a review of it here.

Set in 1983, both stories are told from twelve-year-old River’s point of view, which delicately teeters between humorous and dramatically desperate.

The author did an excellent job pulling in characteristics you don’t often read about in middle-grade novels. In My Name is River there’s a boy with a paralyzed arm due to complications at birth. In Hope Girl, one of River’s friends, Carlos, deals with stares at his severe scarring from a fire. And River learns to cope with wearing a back brace to correct a curved spine.

I did not find the word handicapped in this book. While the author shares the difficult realities for these characters, she also conveys their strength, courage, and hope as they face life challenges. 

One reason Wendy Dunham expresses these challenges so exquisitely is because of her own life experiences. She serves children with special needs as a registered therapist. Plus, Dunham knows the discomfort of wearing a back brace because, like River, she also had to wear one.

Do you know a tweener who is longing for things to be different in her life? Perhaps struggling with physical appearance, family issues, or something that's out of their control?Why not surprise her with this book?

Here's your chance to win a copy of Hope Girl.? All you have to do is hop over to Wendy’s facebook author page. Let me know in the comments below after you visit her page, and I’ll put your name in the drawing.  A winner will be randomly selected on Saturday, August 12. 

If you don't win, Harvest House is hosting a 99-cent special on the e-book, Hope Girl, just through the month of August, over at Amazon.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SHANNON DILLARD of N.C.! You won! I'll be in touch with you about the delivery of your book. :) Thanks to all of you who participated. Stay tuned. There'll be another giveaway in a few weeks.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free in return for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


  1. There's a tweener in my church that could definitely use a message of hope. Great review, Sally. Thanks for posting.

    1. I'm glad you stopped by, Julie. The tween and teen years can be challenging. It's a blessing to know that you've noticed, and care about, the tween who is struggling. I'll remember her in prayer as well.
      Julie, have you visited the author's facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/WendyDunhamAuthor/ If so, I'll put your name in the honest hat and perhaps you'll win this heartwarming book for your tween friend. :)

  2. Sally, thank you for such a lovely review; you are truly gifted. Thank you for using your gift so generously. I pray that through River's journey in Hope Girl, that lives will be touched and hearts encouraged.

    1. You're most welcome. May the Lord continue to bless you and the work of your hands.

  3. I was a middle school principal for seven years, and I know only too well the baggage that many kids carry and how much they need hope. Sounds like a perfect book for that -- this book needs to be in school libraries!

    1. It would be an encouraging book for many students, I'm sure. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Pam.

  4. Shannon Dillard8/11/17, 9:34 AM

    Hi Sally! I visited Wendy's page. I loved your book review and would love to have this for my girls!

    1. Hi, Shannon! Thanks for visiting Wendy via Facebook. She has a big heart for children. I believe your girls would enjoy this books as well. :)


Thanks for sharing! Your comment will appear after review from the moderator.