I Fell in Love with Hope Book Review: Synopsis
Against the unforgiving landscape of a hospital, the narrator Sam falls in love with a mischievous, sun-eyed boy who becomes his only joy in that desolate place. When the boy dies by suicide in front of Sam, he is left heartbroken and swears to never love again. Sam befriends a group of terminally ill patients—Sony, Neo, and Coeur—young thieves seeking great escapes from the harsh realities of their diseases and abusive parents. Wheel-chaired writer Neo keeps track of their heists, while the gentle giant Coeur has a failing heart.
When a new patient named Hikari, who battles depression and self-harms, arrives, Sam feels the stirrings of first love again. Hikari joins their gang, and her smiles render Sam speechless. As they plan their ultimate heist to flee the hospital and live life, Sam starts to fall for her. But he remains terrified of loss after his past singular heartbreak.
Their first escape attempt fails when Sam turns back, hurting Hikari. Forced to confront his grief, Sam strives to save Hikari as he’s saved the others. Just as she seems to improve, Sony and Coeur pass away. Hikari spirals into deeper depression and begins attempting suicide. Only when their friend Neo stops her final try does she accept Sam’s comfort.
As Hikari nears discharge, Sam reveals his secret in the hospital garden: he is not human but a concept given form after falling for a patient. He relinquishes that form, trusting Hikari will love him beyond death.
“I Fell in Love with Hope” is the debut novel from writer Lancali, pen name of Lou-Andrea Callewaert. Released in 2022, it tackles mental illness, chronic disease, strained families, and loss.
I Fell in Love with Hope Main Characters
The narrator and protagonist; falls in love with a patient who later dies by suicide, leaving Sam heartbroken; vows to never love again until he meets Hikari
Terminally ill patient; leader of group of young thieves/patients seeking great escapes from the hospital; lively despite only having one lung
Wheelchaired writer living in hospital; keeps track of the group’s heists; battles anorexia from abuse by his father
Gentle giant patient with a failing heart who gives love to others; passes away during heart transplant surgery
New patient suffering from depression and self-harming; joins the friend group in plotting escapes from hospital; her smile and sunny personality cause Sam to start falling for her after his past loss
Sam’s First Love
Mischievous, sun-eyed boy patient who brings Sam joy before dying by suicide at the start of the story
I Fell in Love with Hope: Tropes and Themes
At its core, “I Fell in Love with Hope” is a story about finding light even in the darkest of places. The bulk of the narrative unfolds within the unforgiving confines of a hospital, a desolate landscape typically associated with pain, loss and the ever-looming specter of death. Yet somehow, relationships blossom in this environment, including Sam’s first love and his bond with the mischievous group of young patients.
This speaks to the endurance of the human spirit and its ability to seek out those life-affirming connections. The theme of hope shines through as well in these terminally ill teens seeking great escapes from their realities through petty crimes. They are raging against their fates, intent to greedily seize what remains of life by force.
The found family trope manifests through this plucky band of hospital friends who support one another as only those undergoing similar travails can. There are echoes of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth when it comes to Sam’s singular heartbreak over his first love’s death and the symptoms of his resulting emotional walls. Meanwhile, Hikari stirs up those feelings once more, threatening to rend open poorly healed wounds even as her vibrancy awakens Sam’s soul.
Classic YA tropes feature too in this coming-of-age tale rife with issues of identity and belonging. While darker topics like mental illness, self-harm, strained families and grief permeate the novel, Lancali ultimately leaves readers with a sense of catharsis. Out of the ashes of those whom time and disease claim comes the understanding that living means loving without guarantees—a lesson Sam embraces when he finally opens his heart again to Hikari.
I Fell in Love with Hope: Writing Style
Lancali wields lyrical prose with striking imagery throughout the novel. Similes abound, including depictions of “needles of rain” and Hikari’s eyes as “suns.” The hospital transforms into a bleak underworld, with its tiled floors like a river Styx ferrymen cross silently. This lends a dreamy, gothic quality to the setting. Lancali’s writing also displays a talent for capturing emotional essence through environmental projections. As Sam grieves, “the sky aches, bruises, weeps right along with me,” the outside emanating his inner turmoil.
The narration equally excels at encapsulating feelings. Sam peers at Sony, musing how “her soul, too big for one pair of lungs, has always burst out of her.” The personification concepts prove unique as well, with Lancali presenting the hospital itself and Sam’s grief over his lover anthropomorphically. This allows intricate exploration of ideas like institutional uncaring and the evolution of remorse.
Some sentences stretch on in meandering beauty. While lovely, a balance between this and more concise impact could strengthen the writing overall. Nonetheless, vivid lyricism astonishes throughout, as when Lancali writes “her smile blooms” or “Hikari glows in the charcoal dark.” The debut novelist clearly possesses an innate gift for striking language and imagery. Her future works hold great promise as she hones this raw talent.
I Fell in Love with Hope Book Review: Final Verdict
Ultimately, “I Fell in Love with Hope” is a raw and emotionally compelling debut novel well-worth reading, particularly for fans of character-driven narratives. While the plot progresses in muted tones, the vibrant inner lives and motivations of the hospitalized teens shine in Technicolor. Lancali peers unflinchingly into matters many shy away from—chronic illness, depression, self-harm—gifting these characters incredible depth and humanity. The bonds they forge, the humiliations they endure, their triumphs and losses all feel vividly real, anchored by resplendent prose.
As such, this novel holds tremendous appeal for young adult readers grappling with issues of identity, uncertainty over the future, and longing for unconditional belonging. The hospital setting makes it uniquely intriguing for terminally or chronically ill teens who rarely see honest portrayals detailing experiences they intimately understand. Romantics will swoon over the heart-rending relationships. Avid readers and budding writers may appreciate Lancali’s remarkable literary voice as well.
While a melancholic work, darkness finds equilibrium against the hope and light these characters kindle within each other. Their passion for living and loving in the face of mortality sparks inspiration. Sam emerges with hard-won wisdom—even transient lives harbor profound meaning. In the end, Lancali crafts a difficult yet uplifting paean to the endurance and ingenuity of human connection.
- I spend my days immersed in the world of books, finding solace in their pages. In my spare time, I transform into a critic, penning reviews that unravel the magic and mystery of each story. This passion for reading is not just a hobby; it’s a part of who I am.
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