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A Reason for Hope
by Kristin von Kreisler

Published: 2021-12-28T00:0
Paperback : 336 pages
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For animal lovers and fans of The Art of Racing in the Rain, this heart wrenching yet uplifting novel from the bestselling author of An Unexpected Grace tells of one woman’s journey to healing and love after trauma—through the devotion of an unforgettable yellow Lab named Hope.

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For animal lovers and fans of The Art of Racing in the Rain, this heart wrenching yet uplifting novel from the bestselling author of An Unexpected Grace tells of one woman’s journey to healing and love after trauma—through the devotion of an unforgettable yellow Lab named Hope.

On San Julian Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle, Tessa Jordan works as a bookmobile librarian, recommending books and poems to her patrons. In her spare time, she cares for a colony of feral cats. But Tessa’s simple, satisfying life is shockingly upended after she meets Nick Payne, a respected community leader, and he invites her to dinner.

Far from a pleasant first date, Tessa’s evening with Nick leaves her feeling confused and upset. After deep soul-searching, she decides to step forward and accuse him of assault. Her distress grows when local prosecutor Will Armstrong declines to pursue her case, citing lack of evidence. Her main solace is Hope, a courthouse dog, trained to comfort victims through the difficult judicial process. As she lays her head in Tessa’s lap, her gentle brown eyes seem to say, Don’t worry. Everything will be all right.

Will, who is Hope’s primary handler, longs to get justice for Tessa, yet knows how rocky the path will be. It’s Hope who, true to her name, shines a bright ray through the darkness. With Hope by their side, Will and Tessa find surprising strength in each other as they learn just how resilient a heart—whether human or canine—can be.

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April 2014
“Here’s your breakfast! Come and get it, sweet kitties!” Tessa called.
She didn’t have to wait long. In the April sunshine dappling the forest floor, wary eyes peeked from behind trees and under bushes, and noses twitched at the delicious smells emanating from her wicker picnic basket. The feral cats now knew that they were about to dive into shredded sautéed chicken and chopped hardboiled eggs sprinkled over their favorite homemade kitty kibble. Their chorus of meows demanded, Hurry! Feed us! ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in the U.S. nearly one in five women and one in seventy-one men have been the victim of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reports that an American is sexually assaulted every seventy-three seconds. Do these statistics surprise you? Or are they what you would expect? Why do you think that sexual assault is such a problem in the U.S. today?

2. Why do some of the women in A Reason for Hope never report that they were sexually assaulted? What other reasons might there be for not going to the police? Was Tessa’s choice courageous or foolhardy? What would you have done? Could you sympathize with her delay in reporting the assault?

3. A moral dilemma at the heart of this story is based on the conflict between the assault victim and perpetrator’s legal rights. Tessa believes that the laws are unfair to the victim. Do you agree? Should proving consent be so important? How could this conflict of rights be resolved?

4. Some people might say that Tessa was “asking for it” by going to Nick’s house when she hardly knew him—at night. How do you feel about that? Could she be blamed in any way for what happened to her?

5. Do you agree or disagree with Tessa that the judicial system is inherently sadistic? Why? In court, does everyone come out worse even if they’re on the winning side? Or is justice meted out fairly? Was Nick Payne’s sentence fair?

6. How did Tessa grow and change as a result of the assault? Did any good come from it? Or is it going to hurt her for life? What about the other women in her group? How do you think their futures will be?

7. Louann says that anger often masks deeper emotions that are too frightening to feel. What might be some of those emotions? Why do women have problems expressing anger or letting it fuel constructive action, such as standing up for themselves and speaking their truth? Could Tessa have done that in court?'

8. How would you define hope? How does it play a part in the story? What are some of the reasons the characters might feel it? Do you believe that women can have hope about justice for sexual assaults today?

9. If we assume that we can’t escape physical and psychological pain at some time in our lives, do we need to make peace with it? Does fighting it make it harder to bear? Does it help to surrender as Tessa did? Is that possible?

10. Do you think that hardship makes you stronger—and that if you’ve gained strength from it, nobody can take the strength away? How does this apply to Tessa? Have you ever taken pride in strength you’ve gained at a cost to yourself?

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