Some people just look destined for great things. And sometimes, life has other ideas.
Whatever happens to those kids at school who are always being tipped to be stars in adult life?
It's a question all of us find ourselves asking at some time and Mike Gayle's powerful, poignant novel answers it with regard to Danny Morgan and James McManus - rivals for top honours in everything throughout their school years in Birmingham.
Whatever their friends and teachers might have expected, neither Danny nor James is currently running the country.
Depressed and unemployed, Danny is facing an ultimatum from his girlfriend Maya: if he doesn't get out and get a job, she's leaving.
It was an accident that changed James's life and now he is looked after affectionately by his parents. But his sister Martha believes that the role of full-time carers is destroying their lives - and infantilising her brother.
She suggests that James should go into a respite home while her parents take a break.
The respite home, as it turns out, where Danny has just got a job.
What is the path that has brought these two people to this unexpected place, and where will it take them next?
This is the story of Danny and James, but also of the families who love them and of the women they love. It is a story of many surprising twists, by turns funny and sad, painful and uplifting, and marks a brilliant new stage in the writing career of one of Britain's favourite novelists.
Praise for The Hope Family Calendar — -
A delightfully easy and poignant read. — Closer
The Hope Family Calendar is the most heart-wrenching novel I've read this year...With a style similar to David Nicholls, Gayle's writing is incisive, lyrical and very beautiful...It's impossible not to fall in love with the Hope family. — Irish Independent
Gayle writes with such warmth and wisdom about the human condition, at the same time creating a page-turner in this charming family tale which centres so movingly around unbearable loss...I highly recommend this novel - I know it will stay with me for a long time. — Hilary Boyd, author of Thursdays in the Park
An emotional and surprisingly funny story you'll want to read in one sitting. — Fabulous