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Wednesday
Aug152018

Book Review: The Hope Store

The Hope Store. Dwight Okita. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, August 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book, 256 pages.

Reviewed by Kelly Fumiko Weiss.

The Hope Storetells two interwoven stories, both espousing the message that we are more than the sum of our parts. One story is of a lost but determined woman named Jada who has been without hope her entire life. Jada says the wrong things, makes mistakes, and attempts suicide because she just can’t see the point of it all. Still, she has an inner fire that can’t be denied. The other story is of Luke and Kazu—partners in both love and business. Their determination to provide hope to the hopeless manifests when they open a store that will offer hope installation treatments. 

The book jumps back and forth between the two storylines, giving you insights into the buyers and the sellers, and the ethical conversations that take place when marketing something as ephemeral as hope. As Jada decides to try the hope treatments, and Luke and Kazu are taken along on the roller coaster of her responses to them, the reader gets to see all sides of the implications of selling hope as a commodity. The conceit of the book alone makes it worth the read. It was a simple yet original concept that I loved diving deeper into. 

Okita is clearly a talented creative with a prolific writing background. I look forward to reading more of his work. I struggled a little bit with his use of repetition as a writing technique, but that style choice did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. I found the diversity of the characters refreshing. As an Asian American, I am always happy to see a realistic depiction of Asian Americans in books and storytelling. And the rest of the cast of characters was an equally diverse reflection of the people you can and do find in Chicago. 

What I liked the most about the book was the ultimate moral of the story—that even if you have hope installed in you, you still have to do something with it. That along the way we each make a million choices every day that will lead us in either a destructive or constructive direction. Okita does a wonderful job of keeping the reader in a suspended sense of hope as the story unfolds. Readers hope that Luke and Kazu will succeed in their relationship and their store, but, more importantly, that Jada will eventually find the peace and happiness she is looking for. The book forces the reader to reflect on the idea of “what is hope?” and that inherently makes one feel hopeful. No store needed.

 

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