Author: KAYLA JOY
Publication Date: APRIL 15, 2021
Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION
ABOUT THE BOOK
Annaleise Winston can never seem to fit in with the Society Girls, the strict rules that govern them, or their selfish indulgence during the Great Depression. Behind closed doors, her publicly perfect new fiancé, Frank Alexander, is violent and dismissive, but without his financial security, Annaleise and her mother will be on the streets with not a penny to their name.
When Annaleise finally has enough, she runs away and accidentally becomes stranded in Hooverville, a lawless homeless encampment in Central Park, where she must keep her identity a secret if she wants to stay alive. But a kind shoe shiner named Thomas Kelley may get in the way of everything she thought she ever wanted. As their love for each other grows, the Great Depression worsens, and Frank will pay any price to bring his bride back.
At first, I had a hard time getting into the story due to how uninteresting it was in the beginning but as it goes on, I started to enjoy it and glad that I did. This book has a very depressive story and the settings aren’t that bright either. Everything bad and good that happened in this book made me sad, heartbroken, and just mad at the world.
It was scary how despite this book is fiction (I get that it was based on a real life event) and set in the past, yet everything that happened in it mirrors the world today. The violence toward the poor and homeless people, the rich becoming richer and doesn’t care about the poor and homeless people, there was also a slur that the rich thrown at the poor and homeless people, and domestic violence. The book focuses on these matters and I was hooked.
Everything about it can be seen through the eyes of the female lead of the story, Annaleise Winston. She was the one who told this story and shared her experiences with the readers. She’s a rich young woman coming from a rich family, and who got engaged to an abusive rich man. Her journey to escape her suffocating life brought her to Hooverville. It is the place where the poor and the homeless lived in. This is where she saw the world for what it truly was and how she finally understood the struggles these people had to face daily.
The looks of Hooverville is so depressing but the people in it made it looks like a happy place where everyone get to enjoy what they are doing without society judging them. These people despite having no money or less money still work so hard. Their community may be small but all of them are like one big family because they will always have each other’s back. It was so heartwarming seeing them being comfortable and still smiling despite how tough their lives are. The support they gave each other is really genuine, and it just proved that they are truly a bunch of kindhearted people. You don’t see rich people genuinely support one another, and honestly the majority of rich people only support each other for their own gain and hidden agenda. This is why people in Hooverville are much better than the rich people in this book.
Thankfully for Annaleise, the only person who came from the rich society who are willing to live and stay with the people in Hooverville. Her character is the best even though I couldn’t connect with her in the very beginning due to how she acted. She was so kind and even though what she did would be frown upon but she didn’t care. All she cares about are helping the people in Hooverville and trying to make changes by bringing the problems that the poor and homeless has been facing for years to light. This is where her talent of writing a book came in.
She wrote a book called Hooverville and in it she shared her experience of staying there such as: what are the activities she did with the others there, the friends she made, how are the people acted around each other, how being with those people opened her eyes wide enough for her to realize the faults of society, how government can’t be trusted etc. She wrote everything and I appreciate her for making the lives of these people better by the end of the book. She literally is the savior of these people even though she doesn’t feel like one. Her kind and humble heart made her character shine in this book and that’s how you know she is a very good person who just wanted the best for everyone and wanted to change the world to a better place.
There are so many lessons that all of us can learn from Annaleise. The impact she made are bigger than what she expected but she was proud of herself for being able to bring a huge change to her country and to society, just like how proud I am of her character growth and how brave she was to stand against men with higher power than her. She managed to make them fall and made people realize how corrupted the government and everyone in it actually are.
Moving on to Frank Alexander, well he is the devil dressed as a human. I hate him so much for so many reasons. He didn’t just physically abused Annaleise, but he was also too controlling. He wanted everything to be so perfect that a single mistake sent him mad. He’d been abusing Annaleise for years that it caused her a major PTSD. I felt bad for her but also proud of her for being brave enough to escaped and fought back. Honestly, Frank is a lot worser than I thought he would be. He got what he truly deserved in the end.
The way I see it, his character is an attention seeker. He seek attention from the president and always wanted to make himself better by betraying anybody who he sees as a threat even though those people aren’t exactly a threat to him. Every time he appeared in the story, I got annoyed and frustrated. He was terrifying because of what he’s capable of doing but even a high and mighty man as him can fall too. I’m glad that he’s gone for good, it was better that way.
If Frank is the devil, then Thomas Kelley is the angel. I loved Thomas so much. He’s kind and caring which is the total opposite of Frank. I liked the part when Frank talked about money to him and then Thomas easily put Frank in his place. I laughed when Frank turned quiet. Thomas is so much better than Frank and Annaleise is a one lucky woman for capturing the attention of a great man like him.
Thomas is one of the people who lived in Hooverville and is one the reasons why Annaleise fought so hard for the people that lived there. Thomas may not be rich but he is a hardworking man who worked as a shoeshiner and used the little bit of money he has to buy foods for the people in Hooverville. There was a time when he got back from work and brought apples to share it with everyone. He is so selfless and it doesn’t matter whether he’s starving or not, as long as everyone gets to eat then he’s already happy. Seriously, I just want to give him a hug.
There wasn’t much to learn about his character but he also shine in this book just like Annaleise. He is so important to her just like how she is so important to him. These two are the star-crossed lovers. Their romance are beautiful and sweet, and I loved how great the moments they shared are. There are so many obstacles they had to face just so they can reach their happy ending. I was heartbroken especially reading the train station scene. Thankfully, they get their happily-ever-after. They deserved it after everything they’ve been through.
This book was great to read and there are definitely so many things in this book that readers can connect it to real life situations considering whatever happened in this book are still happening in our world today. This may just be a fictional story but it is undeniable that the elements in it are taken from real life situations. To be honest, society back then and society now are messed up. There are good changes being made but not many.
When Annaleise said in the book how she didn’t believe the governor’s words, I agreed with her. Politicians nowadays only talks but no actions. They make promises but aren’t able to fulfill it. This book basically shows what America actually looks like which is a messed up country but to be honest, other countries are messed up too in their own way but America just happens to be a lot worse.
On another note, many countries in the world still acts like how society in this book acts. People who are rich always think themselves so mighty. They have too much money but can’t even make a single donation to help the poor until they were called out. Just like how Annaleise called out the rich in her book and that’s how they started to donate any things including money. She used her talent as a writer to make the world see the real situation in her own country, and to make her own people realize what was wrong with society.
The storyline of this book is far deeper than what the synopsis made it out. I highly recommend this fantastic story to those who love reading stories that are focusing on the good and bad of societies, a heroine who dared to change her own country into a better place, a man who stand by her side without caring about status and money, and a small community who have her back. This book was amazing and very enjoyable to me even though I struggled to get into it in the beginning.
Kayla Joy is an author and artist living in the Pacific Northwest with her family and her many animals. At 20, she has already self-published two books: Morbid Tales from Behind the Mirror (available on Amazon now) and Hooverville.