Review: Hope Nicely’s Lessons For Life by Caroline Day

Title: Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life

Author: Caroline Day

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Books

The Blurb

Completely unique concept and writing style – written in the voice of Hope who has FAS (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome)

‘I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.’

Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.

But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.

It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing, but will also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.

But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .

Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a heartwarming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.

The Review

Hope Nicely’s story is powerful. That is the first thing I need to say. It isn’t powerful in that whole knock you over with drama kind of way. It is subtle and quiet but it has the lasting kind of power. Hope Nicely has a medical condition. She has FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), for those who don’t know a lot about this – I myself am someone who doesn’t know enough – this means that she has a developmental disorder which makes every day life a little bit harder for her. She sets out with a mission to write her autobiography with the belief that her birth mum will find it, read it and explain why she abandoned her.

The book follows a certain period of her life that challenges her in ways that people with developmental issues would find distressing but we watch how she Hope Nicely deals with these challenges. It is a wonderful coming of age story and gives the reader an insight into the world of someone with this condition. I have worked with students with this disorder and I feel having read this book I now feel I have a more lived in experience of what they may be going through or how they see the world. I feel that I have gained a lot more empathy for having read this story and for that I thank Caroline Day for writing it.

Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life by Caroline Day is available from 22nd July 2021.

For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit

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