A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
You are not the bad things that happen to you. Who you are and what happens to you are separate things. The bad things that happen, the things that knock you down, are tests to see if you'll stay down or get back up again.
Positive Role Models
Sky is a good model of courage. She bravely seeks the truth even when she's afraid of what she'll learn, and she also bravely and in a safe manner confronts the people who harmed her in the past. Holder is a poor model in some ways, especially at the beginning with some stalking behavior and feeling justified in beating someone so badly the victim's hearing is permanently damaged. As a sexual partner and source of emotional support for Sky, he's pretty much flawless.
All characters read as cisgender, heteronormative, able-bodied, neurotypical, and White, except a friend who's gay.
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Violence & Scariness
In the past, a villain rapes several children, including his sister, repeatedly over the course of years. No specific acts are described but the lingering trauma is a major plot element. The child molestation/rape is all in flashbacks/memories, probably about a half dozen or so of them scattered throughout the book. In the present, a character kills himself by gunshot. It's not described directly but includes the sound of the shot and mentions blood spatter and that what's spattered is not just blood. Showering to remove the spatter is described extensively. A character is mourning his sister's death by purposeful overdose a few years ago. Mention of a past beating bad enough to cause permanent hearing damage, and is justified to the character who did it. A couple of slaps in the face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of sensual descriptions of making out, kissing, caressing, and undressing. Sexual activity described specifically but without mentioning body parts includes rocking against each other, moving together, using condoms, penetration, rhythmic lifting and lowering, and words like shuddering, release, and moaning to describe orgasm. Some troubling stalker-like behavior early on that's played as romantic, but not repeated. Some stereotyping in that the boy is always the pursuer and sexually active young women are "sluts" and "whores."
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"S--t," "s--tload," "bulls--t," "f--k," "p--sies," "whores," "assholes," "dammit," "bitch," "hell," "Jesus," "slut," and "ass." A few references to doing favors for your partner as being "whipped."
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Products & Purchases
A few food and consumer products, and social media platforms, mentioned rarely and incidentally.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The villain's past alcohol abuse caused his criminal acts of repeated child rape.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hopeless is a romance by popular author Colleen Hoover that it deals with two deaths by suicide and flashbacks/memories of the repeated rapes of a 13-year-old by her 23-year-old brother and a 4-year-old by her father. Recovering memories, confronting the past, and starting to heal from the trauma are major themes. A note in the back provides hotlines and websites for assistance with sexual abuse and suicide prevention. Most violence is in the past and no acts are directly described, but circumstances and emotions are. Blood spatter in the present is mentioned, and scrubbing it off in the shower is described. Sexy stuff includes sensual descriptions of making out, kissing, caressing, and sexual activity described specifically but without mentioning body parts -- rocking against each other, moving together, using condoms, penetration, rhythmic lifting and lowering, and describing orgasm with words like shuddering, release, and moaning. There's some troubling stalker-like behavior early on that's played as romantic. Strong language includes "s--t" and variations, "f--k," and "p--sies." Past violent crimes are blamed by the perpetrator and a victim on alcohol abuse.
Is It Any Good?
Although it isn't marketed to teens, there's plenty of teen appeal, which romance fans will enjoy, in this sexy romance between two 18-year-old high schoolers. Hopeless also has its share of cliches, stereotypes, and some problematic behavior like stalking and a violent temper that could be a good starting point for talking about these issues.
Intertwining passages in italics of memories as they're slowly uncovered with the rest of the story about first love keep the pages turning. Although the past trauma is hinted at enough that it's not a surprise, there are still a lot of surprises to come as the whole truth is revealed. Best for mature teen fans of romance who can handle the potentially triggering themes of sexual abuse and suicide.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.