An “immersive…illuminating” (Booklist) and life-affirming novel following the residents of an idyllic Connecticut town over the course of a year, A Little Hope explores the intertwining lives of a dozen neighbors as they confront everyday desires and fears: a lost love, a stalled career, an illness, and a betrayal.
Freddie and Greg Tyler seem to have it all: a comfortable home, a beautiful young daughter, a bond that feels unbreakable. But when Greg is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, the sense of certainty they once knew evaporates. Throughout their town, friends and neighbors face the most difficult of life’s challenges and are figuring out how to survive thanks to love, grace, and hope.
“A quietly powerful portrait of small-town life…told with wisdom and tenderness” (Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes) A Little Hope is a deeply resonant debut that immerses the reader in a community and celebrates the importance of small moments of connection.
Reading Group Guide
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This reading group guide for A LITTLE HOPE includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Greg Tyler has a successful career, a loving wife and daughter, and a dizzying cancer diagnosis that has him asking himself hard questions. From there, A Little Hope sprawls out through the Tyler’s network of friends and neighbors, and each character finds they are far from alone in experiencing pain, loss, and fear.
A Little Hope is a deeply affecting debut novel about the personal struggles of friends and family living in a Connecticut town. It is a story that celebrates the power of small but genuine interactions in the face of challenging times.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Greg confronts his diagnosis in a head-on, almost aggressive way. What do you make of his emotional response?
2. Do you or have you lived in a small town? What is your network of friends and family like? How does your own compare to that of the characters?
3. Consider Ahmed and Damon’s friendship. How do you think their relationship compares to most male friendships? What does their dynamic add to the novel?
4. When Alex and Kay tell Greg and Freddie about Alex’s daughter, Freddie reflects she could forgive Greg for anything, “if it meant they could get to Alex and Kay’s age.” Each relationship informs others throughout the novel. What can be learned from having a variety of perspectives at different stages of life?
5. Missed or lost connections are an important theme throughout A Little Hope. Consider what could have been for some of these characters if things had been slightly different. How do they cope with the reality of their situations?
6. Several difficult conversations take place throughout the book. Pick a conversation that resonated most with you. Do you feel sympathy for one character over the other, or is it not so clear-cut?
7. Some characters are dealing with fresh grief while others are managing grief from events years prior. How do people process grief differently? What does the novel suggest about mourning?
8. Toward the end of the book, Darcy, Luke’s mother, buys her granddaughter Lizzie a red kite. This moment is reflected on the front cover of the novel. What do you think the kite might represent?
9. The novel begins and ends with Freddie’s thoughts on “nothing.” In “Rain Day” she thinks, “This thing with Greg might keep being nothing.” What do you make of her thoughts at the end? Discuss your ideas in the context of the overall story.
10. A Little Hope features a variety of sympathetic and complex characters. Were you drawn to any particular character? Discuss who your favorites were and why.
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Ginger reminisces about Luke performing on stage in chapter five, “Yes to Love.” She says that “he could switch from Sinatra to Elton John to Bon Jovi.” Pick your favorite range of songs from these artists for a book club playlist.
2. The chapters “Trying to Wake Up” and “The Star in the Box” are letters between Luke Crowley and his mother. Write a letter to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or someone you’d like to reconnect with.
3.Consider buying a kite and going to your local park to fly it!
Ethan Joella teaches English and psychology at the University of Delaware. He is the author of A Little Hope, which was a Read with Jenna Bonus Selection, A Quiet Life, and The Same Bright Stars. He lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with his wife and two daughters.