H is for Helpless
It makes sense that if the reader can see and feel the helplessness and hopelessness in a character who learns and struggles to change or who finds hope, then there is the same possibilities for the reader. Readers want to read to discover and fall in love with a character, they want to care. But they also want to find the same hope and help for their own lives.
To keep your reader engaged in the story and in sequels about the character, the key is to develop a lovable character with flaws. Those flaws will render the character helpless in a situation, say lost in the woods face to face with a big brown bear. Through the fight to gain hope in a hopeless situation, the character develops personal growth and gains the readers admiration.
In your next story, try adding words that make the character helpless and hopeless. Develop a strong story around finding help and hope and you will have a story that readers will love.