“Hope brings chances; Chances gives hope; And hoping for chances is what life is all about.” ~ Hanif Hassan Barbhuiya
The sadness and loneliness is about to crush Dan, from 'Jonathan's Hope' by Hans M. Hirschi, as he sits by the fire in his small cabin, his dog by his side. Dan is remembering the awful day when his lover, Sean, was killed. His gloomy thoughts are interrupted by a knock on the door. More curious than anything, Dan opens it. What he sees is a beautiful, bedraggled, and freezing young man. Dan doesn't know it at the moment, but he is also glimpsing hope.
When Dan loses Sean, he cuts all ties with his life in the city. He loses touch with his friends, sells his condo, and puts his furniture in storage. The small, idyllic cabin in the woods where he vacationed with Sean becomes a prison instead of a refuge. Dan's life is at a painful standstill until he meets Jonathan. As bewildered as he is about how to handle the situation with Jonathan, he does his best, for the most part, letting Jonathan's actions govern his own. Even when Dan realizes he's attracted to Jonathan, he still puts what's best for Jonathan first. Jonathan is only seventeen; Dan is well aware he is a minor and behaves like a gentleman, offering him comfort and affection, but sexual contact is out of the question until his eighteenth birthday.
When Dan learns more about how Jonathan ended up in the forest, he wants some kind of retribution, but, again, knows it would be less harmful for Jonathan to stay at his cabin and stabilize rather than confront his parents in any way. Dan is frequently saddened and enraged at the extent of neglect and abuse Jonathan suffered and does whatever he can to make it up to him, including cooking Jonathan his first birthday cake. Dan feels guilty about falling in love with Jonathan, but he's also aware he's getting a second chance, which may end up changing Jonathan's life for the better as well.
Jonathan is overwhelmed by Dan's generosity and consideration for his well-being. As he begins to realize what he's missed, what normal children take for granted, he grieves for what he never had, but it doesn't make him bitter. Jonathan has had more to deal with at this point in his life than most adults, yet he continues to be a gentle, loving person. Fortunately, he doesn't turn it in on himself either. Yes, Jonathan's self-esteem is battered almost past recognition, but he doesn't blame himself. Jonathan is insecure and frightened, but having Dan to help him, he starts to relax and trust. Their first trip back to the city doesn't go well. They run into his high school principal who gives Jonathan startling news. This throws Jonathan into a tailspin of doubt and insecurity which threatens to destroy all he's built with Dan, but Dan, in his consistent, charming, loving way, encourages Jonathan back into a better place. Jonathan and Dan know there will be a lot more seemingly insurmountable obstacles ahead, but as long as they work together, they will be ok.
Although it begins fairy-tale like, this book has a lot of cold, hard reality woven in as well. It's an endearing story about second chances and hope which both Dan and Jonathan desperately needed. Since little is all black or white, in many cases, Hans portrayed both sides of a character's stories making it difficult to blame or hate anyone, even Jonathan's father. If you enjoy a story which is realistic and sentimental at the same time, with well developed characters, unexpected plot twists, and a happy ending, you may like this book. Thank you, Hans, for the exceptional story.