Wanda John-Kehewin’s new novel Hopeless in Hope was written for a young-adult audience, but those who have read it insist its themes will resonate with mature readers, too.
Following 14-year-old Eva, the book, which was released in September, tackles substance abuse, mother-daughter dynamics, and the role of forgiveness in a family.
Here, John-Kehewin shares her favourite place to read, her favourite author to share with others, and the local writers she admires.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from the Kehewin Cree Nation in Alberta. I am the mother of five children who have always inspired me to write. I write for all children who are trying to make sense of colonial history and to find a way to stand in their truth to heal. I write to give my ancestors a voice and to leave my writing behind so that others may come across my work and be inspired by it. I never want to leave my children behind without any answers; both my parents passed away young, and I feel they passed away leaving many questions unanswered.
What’s something you want everyone to know about you?
All my animals are rescues—except Charley the pug, who has his own TikTok, funnily enough, called “Charley the Pug.” My young-adult novel Hopeless in Hope has a rescue cat in it named Toofie. Rescues will always love you to their core. They know what it’s like to be alone.
What’s one book that changed the way you think?
The Road by Cormac Mccarthy.
What are you currently reading?
A manuscript I am editing, and Cherie Dimaline’s VenCo.
What’s your favourite book to give as a gift?
How would you describe your book tastes?
I like a mix of everything. I mostly like biographies or memoir; I also like creative non-fiction and poetry books.
What’s one book you can’t wait to read?
Gabor Maté’s The Myth of Normal (when I actually have time).
Favourite book store in Vancouver?
Favourite local author?
Controversial: are you someone who has to finish every book you start, or can you abandon ones that aren’t working for you?
I have to finish it.
What’s one book you wish you wrote?
The Road; Fried Green Tomatoes.
Where’s your favourite place in Vancouver to read?
In my bed with a bag of chips! That’s in Coquitlam, though. When I am in Vancouver, the best place to read and eat is Bon’s off Broadway. Very affordable breakfast and lowlight ambience, with enough light to read.