Have you ever considered what you would do for love? How far would you go to protect and be with that special someone you truly care about? Would you give up all the creature comforts that you have grown accustomed to in life? On the surface it looks and sounds like an easy decision. In reality…not so much. To make it even more difficult, what if you and your love interest came from entirely different worlds? An expansive cultural divide which is seemingly impossible to cross. Both sides having little patience, understanding or regard for the other. A Romeo and Juliet, Montague and Capulet scenario if you like. What then? If this has piqued your interest, then author Tatham Langton’s novel The World Lives on Hope, will surely be right up your reading alley.
Essentially, the book follows the lives and relationship which develops between two young teenagers who come from different worlds and backgrounds. One is a sixteen year old orphaned, Afghan boy named Ismail who is part of an agricultural gang illegally working on a farm in England. The other is the fifteen year old farm owner’s daughter called Sue, who is facing her own battle finding her place in English society. The pair are forced to meet secretly due to the mistrust and judgment which would follow if their romance was to be discovered. When it is eventually revealed, violence follows and the pair are forced to go into hiding. Ismail stands falsely accused of being responsible for Sue’s abduction and possible murder… and the public wants blood. Will the two shaken teens manage to return safely and set the record straight? Or is their sweet journey of discovery about to come to a screeching and tragic end?
There is little doubt that the plot of this novel contains a number of themes which are prevalent in today’s society. The motif of ignorance, prejudice and division is explored in depth. The mistrust and fear which exists between the different cultures permeates throughout the tale. Nevertheless, I feel that without a doubt the most overpowering idea in this novel is the notion that love trumps hate. That we are all human beings and have the same need for love, friendship and respect. We are not so different from one another. This is a powerful concept which is explored in depth throughout the book. However, it is not presented in a “preachy” or pontifical fashion. It is revealed through the emotionally packed action which bobs and weaves throughout the story. As a reader, just when we are beginning to feel warm and calm watching this young love develop… something hits us from behind and takes us into another nail-biting direction. Pure reader engagement!
While the plot of the novel is captivating, it still needs dynamic and well-developed characters to support it. That is exactly what we have in this story. Sue and Ismail are the main characters in the book and are believable, compelling and memorable. We are able to relate to them and see significant growth in both of them throughout the course of the tale. For instance, Sue comes across as a bit intractable at the outset, but evolves into a more understanding, mature and compassionate character by the end. The relationship which transpires between Sue and her father helps to guide this dynamic character development.
While the setting of this story takes place in 1999, the events are all still very relevant today. It is strange and disheartening that with the many changes which have happened in society during the passage of that time period, that some things inevitably remain the same. However, as Ms. Langton hints in her title… “The World Lives on Hope.” Maybe someday we will actually see love trump hate in all areas.
Everything in this novel is tastefully done and as such I would give it my highest recommendation for all age groups. The subject matter is relevant and appropriate for teens all the way to senior citizens.
5 out of 5 Hopeful Stars for this one!