Neale, William. “Hope” (Home). MLR Press, 2012.
I chose to call this review “Leaving” because William Neale has left us. I did not personally know William. We were Facebook and email friends and what I know of him, I learned from his books. I doubt I will ever forget the email he sent me asking me if I would review his writing. It started with “You are a legend” and I had to laugh. I have been called many names but no one has ever called me a legend before.
William was an excellent writer and he had no idea that “Hope” was to become his last book and in a sense it is his obituary. It is the story of Spencer Hawkins and what happened after his partner left him for a guy who was already involved with another man. To make matters even worse, Spencer finished his studies and discovered that he did not have a job. Nothing seemed to be going his way and then Spencer got a phone call that changed his life and instilled hope in him (You will have to read the book to find out what that call was). At just about the same time Hunter Harrison found himself alone. His partner walked away from him and his and Hunter’s adopted son, Ethan, (who was suffering from a heart defect and was waiting for heart transplant). Fate brought Hunter and Spencer together and that brought Hunter a bit of hope. Using that hope as a basis for building a solid relationship, the two work together.
What a beautiful heartfelt story that touches the reality of emotions. The title “Hope” fits the story like a snug shoe. We hope that Hunter and Spencer would spend the rest of their lives together in bliss and that eleven year old Ethan will get the heart transplant that he needs. When we embark on a journey, we need hope so that we can finish it successfully. Yet this is not just a journey of hope for Hunter and Spencer, it is a journey of love and of new beginnings.
Neale created romantic characters and then put them into situations that many do not feel easy about because they represent injustices. Then he balances the whole thing out. Some may consider the characters to be too “nice and sweet” to face difficult situations but this is what the author does—they handle them well and with style and we learn that there is nothing that cannot be dealt with when necessary. Spencer was almost broken when his relationship with his first partner ended but that did not stop him in searching for love. Hunter faced a life/death situation with his son and that did not stop him from searching either. Sweetness and maturity join hands in Neale’s writing and adversity is faced and conquered. Since Neale imbues his novels with passion and love, we receive those same emotions as we read. For this alone, I can recommend his work. Yet there are many other aspects of William Neale’s writing that makes him commendable.
I hate to have to end this review knowing that I will never review another William Neale book but then I am extremely happy that I have had the chance to read what I have by him. He may be gone but his legacy is here and there are not many of us that can make a statement like that.