Scott Russell Sanders’ Hunting for Hope: A Father’s Journey is simply that, a journey towards a clarification of the concept of “hope.” This clarification parallels the hiking trips that the author and his son have taken over a two-year period. Sanders’ ideas about humanity and human nature, environment, family, relationships, community (both personal and global) are interspersed and carefully woven within the narration of several hiking trips shared by the author and his son, Jesse, as well as other experiences from Sanders’ family life. Like the terrain of a mountain trail that changes continually, Hunting for Hope asks many questions, proposes many answers, which in turn engender more questions.
Both Jesse and Eva, Sanders’ children, are in the process of becoming functioning and contributing members of society, in a word—adults. Thus, they are both the focal point and impetus for much of what the author is trying to express in this book. During a hiking trip Jesse’s response to what he perceives to be his father’s dark view of the world sets the entire book in motion: “I have to believe there’s a way out of this mess. Otherwise what’s the point? Why study, why work—why do anything if it’s all going to hell?” Conversations with Sanders’ family members from the past—recent and not so recent—are the cornerstone, or perhaps more accurately, the stepping-off point, for this inspirational work about coming to grips with what it means to be a human being, both young and old, as we face a new millennium.
Sanders has published over 20 nonfiction and fiction books. He has won both the Lannan Literary Award and Great Lakes Book Award for his nonfiction. Hunting for Hope, his latest nonfiction effort, is exceptionally accessible. Sanders writes with a clarity that transcends the nebulous ideas, terms, concepts and general condescension that inhabit many of the recent spiritual renaissance works. Hunting for Hope is an attempt to shed some light on a world that can be perceived to be very dark indeed, particularly from the generation coming of age and those waiting in the wings. It is a work that addresses the idea that Generation X doesn’t have to lead to Generation O!
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