Saturday, October 9, 2010

Review: Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Selling Hope
Author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (November 9, 2010)

Description: It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe.  Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?

My Thoughts: This was a nice work of historical fiction. Hope was a character in search of a home. She was on the vaudeville circuit with her father who was a magician. She acted as his assistant. She was very tired of the constant travel and wanted to have a home. When they got to Chicago amid all the fear and confusion of the impending arrival of Halley's Comet, Hope comes up with a way to make some money to provide some security for herself and her father. Her anti-comet pills offer hope to many frightened people. At first, she is just in it for the money but she quickly sees her customers as people in need of hope.

I liked the descriptions of the vaudeville life including the dirty boarding houses, the shabby theaters, and the train travel. I thought the evil manager was a good villain for a middle grade book. He held power over his acts and was a thief too. Hope's father wasn't very parental. He treated Hope more like a partner than a daughter and didn't watch over her very closely. Both were grieving for Hope's mother in their own very different ways. I know that Hope was looking for financial security. I think that Hope's father was just hoping to outrun his grief.

I liked the one-liners that Hope punctuated the story with. I think my favorite was "That gal's mouth is so big, she can whisper in her own ear!" 

I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction who like to read about feisty characters.


  1. Hello, Kathy! Thank you for your nice words about Selling Hope - what a delight to read that you enjoyed it! Researching the one-liners was so much fun! I'm glad they made you chuckle.

  2. This looks really interesting! I don't read many middle-grade books, but I think the inside perspective on a vaudeville troupe could be really fun.

  3. I've never been a huge historical fiction buff, but this sounds interesting for MG readers. The vaudeville lifestyle is something I'm not too familiar with, so I think I'd get into that aspect of it. Thanks for the review!


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