In Hope: A User’s Manual, Rev. MaryAnn McKibben Dana has produced a much-needed guide for people seeking inspiration during difficult times. Drawing upon her own faith, as well as her personal experiences, this book lives up to its name.

Our society often settles for shallow platitudes and blind optimism expressed via social media. However, these fall woefully short when the going gets rough.

Across her book’s six sections, Rev. Dana describes what hope is, what it is not, and presents a spiritual narrative on real hope and the role it can play in our lives.

First, she dispels some of the common misconceptions about hope and offers new ways of thinking. Then, in the context of the messiness of our imperfect, flawed, yet beautiful human bodies, she reminds us that caring for ourselves allows hope to thrive.

In later sections, Rev. Dana explores the idea that hope is not a process or a goal, but rather a narrative in which we live and move. She wraps up the book with thoughts on how we persevere, both when we are feeling hopeful and when we are not.

Rev. Dana’s book is well-researched and thought-provoking. It seeks to enable the reader to imagine, and even create, a more hopeful story for themselves and for our world.

Quentin A. Holmes
Central Presbyterian Church, Eugene, Oregon