Originally published: 26 November 2020
Author: Jessica Ryn
Published by: HQ Stories
Length: 400 pages
Reading dates: 29 Oct-1 Nov 2020
She’s always looking on the bright side…
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….
This is just the book if you fancy a feel-good read, and let’s face it, who doesn’t at the moment? Telling the story of Dawn Brightside, a homeless woman in her 40s who despite her circumstances is bright, kind and optimistic. As the book begins, she has managed to get a much coveted place in a homeless shelter in Kent called St Jude’s.
When the shelter is threatened with closure, Dawn is the driving force in starting the fundraising and publicity needed to try and keep the shelter open. Despite Dawn’s sunny nature, we get the impression that life has been tough for her. She talks about a grown up daughter Rosie, but every time she talks about her, she changes her story. She is also scared of someone from her past.
The other main character we hear from is Grace, who is the manager of the shelter. She loves her job and helping the residents but has her own hang-ups to deal with. She desperately wants to help every homeless person she encounters but with limited places and resources, she is simply not able to.
There are some gritty themes including rape and drug abuse but despite this, The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is an optimistic, positive and heart-warming novel and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters.
Many thanks to HQ Stories for my proof copy.
About the author:
Jessica Ryn is a former midwife and homeless resettlement worker. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at CCCU, and her stories have been shortlisted for the Kimberly Chambers’ Kickstarter Award, Wordsmag and the Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing. When she’s not scribbling away, Jessica can be found meandering through the woods, reading stories that pull on the feel-strings and eating yoghurt-covered skittles. Jessica lives in Dover with her husband, two children and their high-spirited springer spaniel. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is her debut novel.