A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese

Destiny moves in mysterious ways in A Drop of Hope, a fun and engrossing read for middle grades.

A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese.  Scholastic, 2019, 305 pages.

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12

Recommended for: ages 10-14

This story starts with a wish and ends in a crime.  The wish isn’t granted, and the crime is never punished.  Life is like that sometimes, but that isn’t always a bad thing . . .

Earnest Wilmette, the only child of a wealthy family, has a promise to his late grandfather to fulfill.  Ryan Hardy is feeling his father’s pessimism over lost jobs and a country going down the toilet.  Lizzie MacComber is at an awkward stage of development, too much at the mercy of an overbearing cousin who wants to “remake” her.  A general air of decline hangs over their factory town—until a wish, spoken over an abandoned “wishing well,” is overheard.  And one thing leads to another.

From three main characters, the story spirals out in a tangle of unintended consequences, improbable coincidences, and chains-of-events as complex as a Rube Goldberg machine.  Every character we meet—and we’ll meet a lot of characters—has a role to play in the upward spiral that leaves their Ohio town in a much sunnier spot than when we began.  Some of these developments will seem a bit too improbable, but readers will enjoy the witty tone and likable characters.  The mysterious connections and consequences don’t appear to have a cause, unless there really is some kind of magic in the wishing well. 

It takes no leap of imagination give this unseen hand a name–such as Providence.  Though church is mentioned once, religion seems to have no place in the scheme of things, but I was reminded of a statement by (I believe) John Piper: “God is never doing just one thing in our lives.  He’s doing a million things in a million lives, all at once.”  In A Drop of Hope, readers may get a glimpse of how that could work.

Cautions: None

Overall rating: 4.5 (Out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 4.5
  • Artistic value: 4.5

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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