A couple of years ago a blogger wrote a one sentence review of my novel, On the Jellicoe Road. It was bleak indeed. Death, suicide, teen pregnancy, abandonment, depression and the list went on and on. It was pretty awful to see your work reduced to a list of bleakness. What I wanted her to mention was the hope. That it was a story about redemption, love, community, identity, humour and friendship.
Hope is what I try to offer in all my work. In Alibrandi, despite the losses Josie faces in the end, she refuses to be a pessimist because she believes in the goodness of the individual person. In Francesca, on the last page Frankie Spinelli goes to school with hope in her heart regardless of the uncertainty in her life. In Jellicoe, Taylor Markham ends up in a house by the river that was built to bring solace. In Finnikin the two main protagonists may have a different view of homeland, but they both journey thousands of miles to bring a sense of place to a dispirited people. In The Piper's Son, I used a simple gesture between three generations of men to convey that perhaps Tom Mackee and his family and friends are going to be okay.
Ending a story with hope isn’t easy. Not because there's not enough around, but because it can come across clichéd or super sweet or as if you're saying that life has a simple solution. But I try anyway because I would never leave the reader without a safe place to go. That's not to say that I believe it has to be the prerequisite for all storytelling, but I've made it the number one rule in mine.
~ Melina Marchetta
For similar ponderings, please check out Definitions of Hope, a series of hopeful musings from various authors.
(1) Looking for Alibrandi is an amazing book, and it's one of my favorite contemporary Australian novels. Read it (and Melina's other works) now.