About the book
The Extraordinary Hope Of Dawn Brightside will be published by HQ on 28th May 2020 in Hardback and ebook….
Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.
So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.
But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.
Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?
And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….
I was delighted to win a copy of Dawn Brightside in a Random Acts of Kindness competition, and whilst it isn’t published until May, I just couldn’t help bumping this little ray of sunshine up my reading pile.
This real and uplifting debut by Ryn is about the wonderful St Jude’s Hostel for the homeless – set on the coastal clifftop of Dover, which is facing closure due to funding cuts. And as Dawn Brightside is about to find out, St Jude’s isn’t ‘just’ a room to stay in and a roof over a head, it’s a place of safety and one where staff don’t judge – they listen, they support, they ‘see’ the person and they help and guide them back onto their feet. Dawn, after running from place to place for so much of her life, quickly finds this is the one place she doesn’t want to run from…
Being honest, it took about 50 pages or so for this novel to really work it’s magic, but all of a sudden I found myself completely under the spell of Dawn, her messy yet wonderfully loveable bunch of new friends and St Jude’s, and from then on in I found myself quickly turning the pages!
We know Dawn has a story, she doesn’t have a place to call home and it seems she’s been running from someone or something for a large chunk of her adult life, but we’re left guessing at what exactly the full picture is until bit by bit throughout the story it’s revealed. My first thoughts of Dawn were that she was an incredibly complex character, but as you get to know her you realise she’s actually very simple and she sees life quite simply. Dawn is infectious – her optimism not only rubbed off on her new friends but also on myself as I was reading, and I found myself smiling a whole lot – she’s incredibly witty, has the brightest of imaginations and sees the positive in everything and everyone, BUT, that smile is hiding a lot. All is not quite as it seems and as her past was revealed my heart broke for her; I found myself a little choked with emotion on more than one occasion throughout her journey.
A tale of friendship, hope and kindness, with St Jude’s being the real star for me. Run by manager, Grace, and Peter, who himself is a past service user of the hostel, and hearing about the daily running’s and marvellous work these places do for people was an eye opener, which felt all the more authentic due to the author’s own past work as a homeless resettlement worker. St Jude’s are there for the good steps and the bad steps of their service users, as shown through stories we hear from some of the other residents who live there besides Dawn (I especially loved Jack) – you see how essential these places are and the difference they make. The scary reality is, that we’re all closer to homelessness than what we care to think.
Ryn’s writing is light-hearted and easy to read, with an array of characters you come to care for, making the pages almost turn themselves to find out if they and St Jude’s get their happiness, yet the important messages are continually, but subtly, conveyed to the reader – meaning it never escapes your mind what the underlying messages and teachings of the novel are. Exploring homelessness, the issues surrounding it – mental health, addiction, vulnerability, cuts to services/hostels, and how society judge people – these characters may not be real, but the stories/situations are indeed very real with more and more people finding themselves living on our streets.
The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is an uplifting, affecting and thoughtfully written novel about the power of kindness. It reminds us that a kind word, smile or acknowledgment can make all the difference to someone. See homelessness, yes, but also see the person, because don’t we all deserve to be treated like we matter?
Thank you to the publishers for my ARC of The Extraordinary Hope Of Dawn Brightside which I read in exchange for my honest thoughts
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. As always, a little like or share to spread the word is always most appreciated, and if you like the sound of The Extraordinary Hope Of Dawn Brightside then do follow the below links to find out more or pre-order/purchase for yourself…
About the author