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Review: Hope is a Dangerous Place by Jim Baton

Hope is a Dangerous Place by Jim Baton

Hope is a Dangerous Place
Jim Baton
Published February 5, 2020

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About Hope is a Dangerous Place

Seventy-five years ago, fifteen-year-old Hope McCormick disappeared. To remember her, the newly incorporated town was named “Hope.” When high school friends Kelsey and Harmonie begin looking into this unsolved mystery, they discover that someone will do anything to make sure the town’s secrets never come to light. Which neighbors are allies, and which face masks a violent enemy? And what will it take for their struggling town to fulfill its original destiny of hope?

My Review

The thing that drew me to HOPE IS A DANGEROUS PLACE was the idea that the town is named Hope and the whole mystery of her disappearance and its affect on the town so many years later. I think I was looking for a kind of ON THE JELLICOE ROAD-slash-THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT kind of story? Or maybe, on the spiritual side, something reminiscent of Frank Peretti’s THIS PRESENT DARKNESS?

I liked that the story has multiple narrators that tell some of the things happening behind the scenes. Lots of the narrators are adults, though, and many times those characters take the actions that cause major events in the story to happen. The teen characters– Kelsey and Harmonie– often stay interested but passive players in the story that’s unfolding around them.

The town is interesting– it definitely has that closed-circle, small-town feel that reminded me of Ashton in THIS PRESENT DARKNESS. I thought the pursuit of the missing girl helped to keep the story moving forward, but sometimes things unfolded in a weird way. At one point a character discovers a death in her family while taking a walk past a relative’s house– I guess that could happen, it just seemed weird the way it played out. Sometimes deeply sad things would happen and it didn’t seem like they really had a lasting effect on the characters, which made them feel shallow to me.

The cast is fairly diverse, which was really nice to see. I don’t really have any expertise on representation being good or bad, but something felt weird to me in some moments. Like there are a couple moments where the black characters kind of stop everything and have this big gratitude response to the white characters. I don’t know. Something about it just felt… icky… to me.

Like, one girl discovers that in the town’s past, a white man broke up a lynch mob gathering to murder a black man, and then the black community starts gifting food to the grandson of the guy and talking about how they owe him a debt of gratitude. Breaking up a lynch mob definitely sounds like a brave thing to do, but it’s also the right thing? The response of the people seemed a little over the top. I don’t know. Again, I’m no expert on representation, but it felt weird to me.

I don’t think the author meant to create disparity between the white and black or white and Latino communities in the story, but I felt like there were some unequal relationships and situations. It made me wonder if the author had had black or Latino sensitivity readers? Maybe so, and maybe I’m off in my perceptions. I can only speak to how it affected me.

I wouldn’t really say that HOPE IS A DANGEROUS PLACE is young adult fiction, even though there are a couple of teen narrators. I think this is really adult lit. It’s got a lot of Christian content but some swearing and drinking, so I imagine it’s hard to put it solidly into one genre or another.

On the whole, there were some things I enjoyed about the story and some things I found problematic.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Harmonie is black. Kelsey and Harmonie’s teacher is Latina. Other minor characters are Latino and black.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to a man who solicits a woman thinking she’s a prostitute.

Spiritual Content
Characters attend church and prayer services. Those scenes often relate the sermon being preached. Some discussions about the presence of angels and demons. One minor character offers to contact a dead spirit and comments on a girl’s aura.

Violent Content
Some references to abuse by a parent and by a law officer. An unknown person makes a creepy threat to the girls using a doll. Someone starts a fire in a building the girls are in. References to a lynch mob and a police officer who shot a man after claiming he tried to escape custody.

Drug Content
More than one adult in the story drinks a lot of alcohol. One character is a recovered alcoholic.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of HOPE IS A DANGEROUS PLACE in exchange for my honest review.

Monthly Wrap-Up: February 2018

February 2018 Reviews

Romance and dystopian stories, favorites and books I just didn’t get… here’s what you missed this month in reviews.

The Returning (Seer #3) by Rachelle Dekker

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I liked the fast-paced storytelling and the way you could read this book without remembering what happened in (or without reading) the earlier books. I had some issues with the theology, which you can read about in my review.

Everless by Sara Holland

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

A friend suggested that I read this book, and I’m so glad she did. Really fascinating concept and characters I enjoyed.

The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I think you pretty much can’t go wrong with a book about unicorns! This was a fun read, perfect for readers aged 8 to 12.

For Love and Honor (An Uncertain Choice #3) by Jody Hedlund

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Another book from one of my daughter’s favorite authors. It’s a sweet, light romance, great for readers just starting out in the genre.

The Ruby Moon by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I had a hard time following the story in this book. It’s got a wide cast of characters and a lot happening. If the story interests you, I’d recommend starting with the first book in the series instead of this one.

Hawk’s Flight by Carol Chase

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

One of my favorite books of all time– though it’s out of print. I love the characters, and the story still feels fresh to me even after reading it easily a dozen times.

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Gabrielle says: Overall, I give this book 4 stars. While not terribly life-altering (it leans more to the ‘fluff’ side than the profound), it was a delicious read, and as such, merits my approval. Fellow Janeites looking for a quick, easy read will enjoy this one.

When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I read this book because I so enjoyed Thomas’s other books about Moritz and Ollie. This one is very different, but I found the same compelling characters and great descriptions of emotion in here that made me fall in love with the other books.

The Messengers: Discovered by Lisa M. Clark

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

This might be the best Christian dystopian book I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed reading it and liked that the story so seamlessly supported its Christian message.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I struggled with this book. While I found the story interesting, I feel like it was really issue-driven, to the point that everything else seemed to take a back seat to the issue of women’s sexual equality. It’s an important issue, for sure, but I felt like it dominated the story too much for my taste. If you like issue-based books, though, it might be a good one to check out. See the notes after the review for content information.

What did you read in February 2018?

What about you? Did you find any books you have to talk about or books you want to recommend? Leave a comment below sharing them with us.

Also, if you’ve read any of the books we reviewed, leave a comment telling us how you liked the book or what you thought about it!