New review: Hope Against Hope by Sheena Wilkinson

It is 1921. Ireland has been at war for two years. Communities are torn apart by bitter hatred – and now a border splits the island.  Polly runs away to Helen’s Hope hostel in Belfast, a feminist space where young women live and work together – a haven of tolerance and diversity in a fractured city.  But some people hate Helen’s Hope and its progressive values. How can a few girls stand up to hatred – when some of it comes from within their own walls? And the hostel is violently attacked, how can Polly keep hope alive?

Hope Against Hope by Sheena Wilkinson is a gritty and heartfelt story set against the backdrop of the history behind the Irish border. Timely and very relevant for today with the many prejudices that sadly still exist in our society and political debate ongoing around Brexit, Hope Against Hope paints a very real picture of life for Polly and her contemporaries. The well-paced narrative engages you from the start as do the characters, all of whom have their own worries – some more serious than others – to deal with and flaws to face up to. Helen’s Hope provides the space and opportunity for Polly to re-examine her life, in the context of much wider social and political issues, perhaps giving her a perspective she might not otherwise have seen. You can’t help but feel this is something we can all learn from. A great coming of age story for teens.

This is the third historical novel by Sheena Wilkinson focusing on young women growing up during times of social and political change. Find out more at

With thanks to Little Island for sending me this book to review.

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