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Hope in the Holler

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* This is a masterpiece of middle grade fiction, at once summoning the timelessness of life in rural America while blending in modern elements.--School Library Journal, starred review

The poignant--and funny--story of a girl trying to be brave and find her place in the world after she's sent to live with scheming relatives.

Right before Wavie's mother died, she gave Wavie a list of instructions to help her find her way in life, including this one: Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it! But little did Wavie's mom know that events would conspire to bring Wavie back to Conley Hollow, the Appalachian hometown her mother tried to leave behind. Now Wavie's back in the Holler--and in the clutches of her Aunt Samantha Rose. Life with the devilish Samantha Rose and her revolting cousin Hoyt is no picnic, but there's real pleasure in sleeping in her own mother's old bed, and making friends with the funny, easygoing kids her aunt calls the neighborhood-no-accounts. With their help, Wavie just might be able to prevent her aunt from becoming her legal guardian, and find her courage and place in the world.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2018

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Lisa Lewis Tyre

2 books56 followers

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5 stars
447 (39%)
4 stars
489 (43%)
3 stars
165 (14%)
2 stars
10 (<1%)
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7 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews
Profile Image for Kathy.
255 reviews2 followers
January 28, 2018
This was one of the best books I have ever read that addresses the absolute destitute poor in Appalachia. All of the feels, all of the spaghetti and ketchup dinners and all of the waiting on the "mailbox money". I love they way the book stresses that you can always make your place in the world better by sticking with your friends.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,362 reviews531 followers
February 8, 2020
As promised, a story filled with hope that provides a strong sense of place, strong characters, and even a bit of mystery. Wavie was born in Conley Hollow, but grows up on the other side of the mountain. Her mother has removed them both from a toxic family situation and provided a happy home in a trailer park. Unfortunately, Wavie's mother, Ronelda, dies of cancer. Plans that had been put in place fall through and Wavie finds herself returning to Conley Hollow with her Aunt Samantha Rose whose motivation for taking in this new charge is the social security checks. Even though her relatives are not hospitable, the rest of the hollow looks out for each other and they happily include Wavie in their midst. Also included in the cast is Mrs. Chipman, a Christian social worker who comforts Wavie with Matthew 5:8 and Jeremiah 29:11 when hope is in short supply. Tyre is adept at giving us an intimate look at life in the hollers and at the same time gives Wavie and the other children hope for a way out that is real. The list Ronelda leaves for Wavie is so touching and provides tangible ways to move forward. Finally, I have to mention the word games inside the book that will delight kids who love games similar to Boggle.

Profile Image for Patrick.
385 reviews
August 19, 2017
Comes out in March of 2018. Such a wonderful and powerful story of a girl losing her mother, finding her mother, losing her again, and finding the true meaning of family, love, and hope. Absolutely loved this story!
Profile Image for Books on Stereo.
1,268 reviews176 followers
August 30, 2018
Hope in the Holler is a mesmerzing story about a young girl learning to make her way through the world. Reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables. Hope in the Holler feels like a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.
Profile Image for Cassie Thomas.
455 reviews16 followers
April 17, 2018
“I didn’t have her, and I would feel that knot forever, but that wasn’t the end of my story. “

I was adopted by my grandparents, they were mom and Dad, and I just recently lost dad in January. Cue all of the emotions in this heart print book.

I am seriously SO thankful for this book.❤️
198 reviews5 followers
February 14, 2018
Thank you to Lisa Lewis Tyre for providing collabookation with an ARC to review.
Hope in the Holler opens with Wavie Conley burying her mother. Left with a final note from her mom, $23 from her neighbors, and a social worker, Wavie has no idea where the future will take her.
Hope is the story of Wavie trying to find the courage to keep going. Keep living in poverty while being treated horribly by her foster family, keep doing her schoolwork even though her college prospects are non-existent, and most of all keep her kindness instead of becoming hard and cruel like most in ‘Convict Holler.’
Filled with memorable characters and many twists and turns, it was a privilege to observe Wavie’s transformation into a young girl who realizes she may have to fight to control her own life, but that fight will be worth it. Every time.
Wavie uses her memories of her mother to guide her, picks up a few supportive (and entertaining) friends, and forges her path.
I'm connected to Hope in the Holler by heartstrings that I won't divulge. But I'm confident that anyone who reads it will be finding themselves heavily invested in Wavie’s success.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,183 reviews70 followers
February 3, 2019
A good family listening audiobook. The narrator channels Reese Witherspoon to give a sweet Appalachian charm to Wavie and the other characters. The story felt oft-told (reminded me of Joan Bauer) but the narration really lifts it.
Profile Image for Lynn Plourde.
Author 71 books143 followers
January 27, 2018
We could all use more HOPE in this world. I found "hope" in the pages of this book.

Eleven-year-old Wavie has no reason to hope--her mama just died of cancer, she never knew her dad, and her mean aunt Samantha Rose (Wavie never even knew she had an aunt) steps forward to "claim" Wavie (well, actually, to claim Wavie's Social Security survivors benefits--a check every month). Samantha Rose takes Wavie to her mama's childhood home in Conley Hollow, a place of extreme poverty. Wavie doesn't care one bit about being poor (she grew up poor), but she does care about being loved and becoming the person her Mama dreamed she could become: "Be brave, Wavie B.! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it!" So Wavie scratches her way through the squalor and meanness and hopelessness of her aunt's world by clearing weeds and bringing perennials back to life, by making new friends who are more like "family" to her, by being kind to a recluse whom she learns is more sad than scary, and by being brave enough to find a better life--brave just like her mama challenged her to be.

The first-person narration in this book rings true. The language is vivid. The characters are multi-dimensional. The kids in this story stole my heart, but more importantly, they showed me there is always, always hope. Here's to and cheers to HOPE!
November 23, 2017
I'm not normally a consumer of middle-grade fiction but this book grabbed my full attention within just a few pages.

Set in small-town America, and delivered with a southern twang, this tale takes on common, yet complex human emotions that would be relatable to any audience.

Told through the eyes of Wavie, a smart, witty and compassionate kid, as she is uprooted from the only life she's known due to unimaginable loss. The story ushers the reader on a journey from devastation to redemption with many unexpected twists and turns in between.

The reader will surely be heart warmed by the generosity and open acceptance of friendship that only children can seem to muster. Be prepared to experience the full range of human emotions with thoughtful and engaging characters, laugh out load wit, while salted with gripping and palpable loneliness, and finally Hope in the Holler. I simply didn't want it to end.
428 reviews14 followers
August 4, 2018
2.5 stars. My reaction to this was a little like my reaction to another alliterative title from this year, Just Like Jackie. Both have a lot of heart. I feel a bit churlish giving them a middling rating because of something so mundane as my opinions about craft. Put it this way--I would normally rate books like this 2 stars, but their sincerity and heart actually bumped them up for me.
3 reviews
July 10, 2018
I really enjoyed this sweet story. I know my sixth grade girls will love it!
Profile Image for stefiereads.
310 reviews119 followers
November 6, 2022
TW: Loss of parents, child abuse, cancer.

I have this book on my kindle for a while and I have forgotten what it is about then I started reading.. and couldn't stop.

First of all I have to mention that I usually avoided books that deals or talks about cancer. It is triggering to me. I delved into the book not knowing that it talks a bit about that. However, the way the author discussed and mentioned this theme is so little and in gentle way that it was not a problem for me.

I won't be getting into in depth review but I just want to say thank you to the author for writing this book. Hope in The Holler for me is like a blanket and a warm cup of tea in a cold day, like a big hug.
I lost my dad in early May, and reading this story makes me remember dad. I cried, I smiled and it brought so many feelings.
It is just so beautiful.
Profile Image for Josephine Sorrell.
1,524 reviews29 followers
May 27, 2020
When her mother passes away from cancer, middle-schooler Wavie B. Conley finds herself under the care of Samantha Rose, the cruel aunt she’s never met. She shows up at the burial wearing leopard skin saying she will take care of Wavie now. She wants to take care of Wavie’s government checks. Samantha Rose and Wavie’s extended family are crude, verbally abusive slobs, living in run-down filthy house in the Kentucky neighborhood of Conley Holler. This is exactly the opposite of the quiet life Wavie enjoyed with her mother. She longs for her former trailer park home. Wavie soon realized Samantha Rose has taken her in for the sole purpose of frivolously spending Wavie’s mother’s social security checks. Wavie knows she can’t live her next 7 years in what the locals call Convict Holler. Kind, sweet Wavie soon makes new friends; the rough-and-tumble Gilbert and the super-student Camille. Miraculously, Wavie uncovers a secret her mother kept from her...one that might rescue her from Samantha Rose’s and her cruel ways.

To me this is a masterpiece of middle grade fiction. Author Lisa Lewis Tyre has captured life in rural America while blending in modern elements, such as cell phones, Wal-Mart, and the Internet. Wavie is upbeat and sincerely optimistic which carries her through the dark mysteries surrounding Conley Holler. Her close friendships with Gilbert and Camille help her survive the nastiness of Samantha Rose. I think as you hold your breath through the court scene, you’ll find book’s conclusion to be both satisfying and hopeful.

This is well-written prose, with colorful characters that linger long after the novel closes. This is a must-purchase for any middle grade library.
Profile Image for LouLou.
203 reviews5 followers
February 5, 2018
Please read review in its entirety at

With words that drizzle like warm molasses over a plate of steaming flapjacks, author Lisa Lewis Tyre's second middle grade novel, Hope in the Holler, is simply scrumptious!

Twelve-year old protagonist Wavie B. no longer fears death after her mother's passing; it's living a life without the hope of love that scares her. Haphazardly planted in the mountains of Kentucky with her conniving relatives, she must navigate the strangeness of her mother's hometown of Conley Hollow. Wavie strives to follow her mama's dying instructions, “Be Brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it!” Determined not to lose hope, Wavie and her kooky cohorts develop friendships, delve into a mystery, and discover ambitions that are worth going after.

A mixture of sunshine and dark clouds are felt by the reader as they experience the tides of Wavie's life. Sophisticated subjects such as poverty and fractured families are written with a child-like innocence that comes across as honest without sensationalism. This type of structure lends itself to a wider audience base and would be suitable for children younger than twelve years of age with the assistance of their parent or guardian.

The familiar prose of young brave individuals and heartwarming humor, this book is reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Holes, and Sharron Creech's Walk Two Moons.

5 shining stars for Hope in the Holler!

Review on an Advance Reader Copy

1 review1 follower
July 1, 2018
Just finished this treasure with tear-streaked cheeks. What a beautiful story of hope in the darkest of days. "Hope in the Holler" echoes a theme I loved in Jeannette Walls' "The Glass Castle" - Tyre weaves a story of grief and tragedy without giving readers one moment to feel sorry for her characters. Their spunk and resilience in rising above their circumstances will inspire readers of all ages. Tyre allows us to see deeper into her characters than in her freshman work (the excellent "Last in a Long Line of Rebels") - and I found my heart more connected to, and soaring with, theirs as Wavie and her friends journeyed through loss and hardship while clinging to hope. Tyre's typical wit and humor come through in every chapter and the story is never bogged down by the seriousness of the subject. It's a page-turner to the end. I miss the book already. Please, can we have a movie?!
Profile Image for Julie.
1,020 reviews18 followers
June 3, 2020
This is a great novel from Lisa Lewis Tyre. Wavie is left alone when her mother dies, but her mother leaves her with a list of instructions including to find a good life. When an aunt shows up to claim her, one Wavie has never heard of, and whisks her away to the Appalachian Holler Wavie’s mother escaped many years ago, it seems Wavie may not be in control of her own destiny to find that good life. Filled with characters to despise and others we want to learn more about, this is a terrific story of love, family and never giving up hope!
Profile Image for Destinee.
1,587 reviews143 followers
September 24, 2018
The plot was great! I was hooked and finished it quickly. It lost me a little in its depiction of rural poverty. There were nuanced bits and cartoonish bits. And when I actually got to the end I was a tad confused. Overall a pretty good reading experience but I have a feeling it wouldn’t hold up well under closer scrutiny.
Profile Image for Vicki.
4,546 reviews16 followers
August 6, 2018
Such sweet, sweet story of being brave and never giving up. Listened to this in audiobook format - a most excellent reader and way to hear this story.
Profile Image for BunTheDestroyer.
433 reviews4 followers
May 23, 2019
I stand by what I said on page 28, because that is a very predictable ending (just the basic they're not related is what I mean)


Literally, duh. I just feel that would be basic checking. And i can't believe a book if reality doesn't occur in it.

HOWEVER, it was INCREDIBLY heartwarming and sweet.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
2 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2018
Always looking for books with an uplifting message for my classroom. i will definitely be recommending this one!
Profile Image for Laurie.
864 reviews
December 26, 2018
Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 6.2

Imagine that you are twelve-years-old, your mother has just passed away, you have never known your father, and you have absolutely no family. You know that foster care is in your future. Sad, right? This is what Wavie is facing. The mother that she loves more than anything in the world has just passed away from cancer. She has no where to go, or at least that what she thought until her aunt shows up out of the blue to claim her. Samantha Rose is a loud, obnoxious, leopard-print legging wearing lady who professes to be her aunt. She takes her back to Conley Holler to the house that her mom grew up in. The problem is, Samantha Rose is anything but the nice, motherly person and the house is falling apart around them. They are poorer than poor and Wavie soon realizes the real reason that Samantha Rose offered to take her. The only good thing that happens in Wavie's life is that she makes two new best friends - Gilbert and Camille. The longer she is in Conley Holler the more she begins to unravel the secrets of her life and her mother's life. Can Wavie and her friends uncover the secrets before Samantha Rose takes legal custody? Can she find a way out of Conley Holler or is she destined to live a dead-beat life in a place that her mother fought hard to get her out of? Read this incredible book to find out what happens to Wavie!

I absolutely loved this story. From the first page you are friends with Wavie and you are cheering for her until the last page. You feel her pain and throughout the whole book you are pulling for her to overcome the life she has been thrown into. You also cannot help but love Gilbert and Camille. They are amazing friends to Wavie and they are the kind of kids that you would love to have as a friend also. Do not miss this heartwarming story of family and friendship, love and loss, and overcoming incredible odds.

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Profile Image for Jessica Higgins.
1,184 reviews14 followers
February 15, 2018
A young girl who is stronger than she knows must now face the scheming family she has never known to survive living in the Holler. Another outstanding book by Lisa Lewis Tyre that is perfect for young readers!

It has always been Wavie and her mom; they didn’t need anybody else and they both liked it that way. When Wavie’s mom gets sick and knows she is about to die, she gives Wavie a list of instructions for her life. The one she is trying the hardest to live by is Be Brave. It’s hard, especially now that she is having to go and live with an aunt she has never known that seems intent on taking anything she can get from Wavie. Now that Wavie is back in the town her mother tried so hard to leave and never return, she starts to learn more about her mother than she thought possible. With the help of a few new friends, Wavie works to improve her situation and solve one of the oldest mysteries in town.

I absolutely loved this book. Lisa Lewis Tyre has figured out the perfect formula for writing a book that middle grade children will love. There is mystery, friendships, life lessons and strength throughout every page. Wavie and her friends have so much spunk and perseverance that it will be difficult for any reader to not relate to them and want to root for them to succeed. Even though it is a serious subject matter, it never gets more than the intended audience will be able to handle. Wavie may have had a lot of harsh blows handed to her in her short life, but the strength and grace in which she handles them can be a lesson to all of us. The wit Tyre brings to the story helps counter the heavy subject matter bringing the reader right into the story with no desire to leave. The short chapters are great to keep young readers turning the page and engaged in the story. I really can’t find anything negative to say about this book and sincerely hope Lisa Lewis Tyre continues to write books for young readers with a message. I recommend this book to all young readers, parents and teachers for a starting point of conversations that will help all involved.
Profile Image for KWinks  .
1,204 reviews15 followers
July 6, 2018
I loved a great many things about this book. Wavie is a gem. I loved her backstory with her mom, her friends, I even loved Convict Holler. I loved the mystery surrounding Angel Davis. Where the story fell just being short of perfect for me was the unbelievably of the adoptive parents and the "happy" ending.
Imagine you are a kid in a similar situation. Imagine you escape an abusive situation via books, reading about characters in a similar situation to your own. What happens to Wavie is not a realistic or viable option for a kid in Wavie's situation (at least, maybe it happened to one other lucky kid but it would be a fluke). I think it misses the mark by not finding the "hope" in the holler. Instead it gets a "get out of jail free card" ending instead of toughing it out.
Maybe Samantha Rose IS all that Wavie would have until she was 18. Maybe Hoyt would grow to be much leerier of a character than he was already. Maybe Phil would get the hell off the couch one day and protect Wavie. Or maybe she would get very involved at school and work her way out of the holler to a university (like her mom wanted her to). I'm just saying I think maybe I wanted this to be the Glass Castle for middle graders and it didn't go there. I think it should have.
It's still a good read for younger, independent readers.
Profile Image for Tj Shay.
206 reviews
August 19, 2017
This is a wonderful book with a multi-layered story that needs to be read and shared. Wavie's mom has died before the story begins and she gets sent to live with an aunt. Everything looks great on the surface, but there are things to learn.

As a teacher, I thought it was an amazing story to speak to kids about not being afraid of getting out of their small town and having big dreams. One character should be in a Gifted and Talented class, but plays simple because there's no sense in working too hard. This is the story so many kids need.

Review based on an Advanced Reader Copy. This comes out January 9, 2018
1 review
June 27, 2018
This book was such an enjoyable read! I appreciate that this book was not just entertaining - it was full of heart. This book touches on many areas a child this age might struggle with: friendship, the loss of a parent, and mean people.
In the midst of a hopeless situation, we read about a young girl overcoming hardship, persevering and finding HOPE to press through a difficult season of her life.
Do yourself a favor a buy a copy of this book for yourself or the middle grade child in your life.
Bravo Ms. Tyre!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews

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