Jonathan’s Promise by Hans Hirschi is a solid proof of what makes him into the excellent author that he is today. Hans is known as the Queen of unconventional endings, and boy is that God’s honest truth!
It’s always with an emotion of delight filled terror that one embarks on a book journey with the Hirschi. With most other books, if it’s a good book like Jonathan’s Promise, that captures your attention on page two and holds you there, you usually can’t wait to get to the end. You get the same experience with Jonathan’s Promise but at the same time the closer you get to the end the more nervous you get, because you never know with Hans what way the pendulum will swing.
I love those kind of endings, no I love those kind of books, some of the best books I’ve read in my life have been bittersweet, and I think Hans does too. I recently gifted Hans with a book that is very bittersweet, and that is one of the best books I’ve ever read, Memorizing You by Dan Skinner. When Hans was done reading it his first message to me was, It’s official I hate you!
When someone you know, who actually doesn’t hate you, says that to you it is easy to know that you, or in this case the book, has gotten them good! This is exactly what, the Jonathan books and Jonathan’s Promise did to me. (Payback is a bitch, Hans! Payback. Is. A. Bitch!)
Jonathan’s Promise has a way of etching itself to your heart bit by bit, slow burning at first, and then right when you are at the ultimate high, soaring and flying sky high, something happens that shifts your world upside down. Hans can have you crying and laughing at the same time, also, you sit there at the end with your heart and insides in your hands and are happy about it because you know there was nowhere else for this book to go than where he took it. It would have been a crime to have done it any other way.
Hans is a mastermind at creating characters that instantly feel like people who you’ve known for all your life. I can honestly say that I often sit back after reading his books and wish I could write half as well as he does. It looks so effortless, and I know it isn’t, and I don’t begrudge him any of his success in any shape, way or form because it has all taken a lot of hard work to achieved and is so well earned. But it makes you wonder how his mind works when his plot bunnies appear. What goes on in his head? How do the characters talk to him? I can sorta see him pondering along, talking to himself.
Jonathan’s Promise is foremost about four people, Cody, Parker, Jonathan and Marc all of them have an equally important part of make this story into what it is. There are several side characters that not only are important for this tale but also bring a lot of value to the story too. as First, there is the Captain of the cruise line ship on which Parker, Cody, and Jonathan embark on their journey together. He stands for, what someone who knows Hans, called ‘Swedishness’ (Debbie McGowan’s word not mine but I love it and just had to borrow it) and Swedish (or in this case Norwegian) values of treating people equal, that rules are meant to be broken even though in the end, he can’t grant the wish/favor Jonathan ask of him because of headquarters’ rules. There is also a female Mayor (even if that is more European than typical Scandinavian) and the fact that she’s a woman isn’t just a random act or the scandalous wedding that takes place between Jonathan and Emilie, where the couple decides to take her last name and not his, God forbid!
All these things are there for a purpose, they might seem as small and trivial things but they are important details, and as Hans himself says, they have all been put there very consciously and with great reason. I think some of those things are to push boundaries, to make us think about how our own part of the world looks like, what we still have to achieve and also Hans own political ideas of what a “perfect or imperfect” world looks like.
Jonathan’s Promise is of just that, keeping promises and to never ever give up. To fight for what you want and what you believe in, spite everything else, even spite of or maybe because of your past. To realize who do your life your life for, others or yourself? And does other’s, inform of family and good friends, have the right to interfere with your happiness?
Lastly, I don’t think Hans realizes how talented he is, the quality of well thought out stories he provides in his books but also how amazingly they reflect reality and therefore means so much more to the literature world than the average LGBT book.
Not that the overall LGBT books aren’t important too but that there are those authors, such as Dan Skinner and Hans Hirschi, that will help put LGBT books up there with other classics written by other amazing talented men and women such as Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronë did for women in the 17th and 18th century, Harriet Beecher Stow did with her Uncle Tom’s Cabin to show the truth and reality for slaves in the United States during the 18th century.
As a woman that’s what I’ve always missed in hetero books, women I can relate too, unless you count Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë which is funny since their books are hundred of years old and women in books today pale in comparison to those back then. Besides those kind of women, I feel more connected to Jonathan and feel as if I have more in common with him than many female characters I have encountered in my life by reading books. This proves not only that Hans characters are diverse but what sexuality a person has really isn’t that important, who they chose to love or simply screw has nothing to do with what their person brings to the table.
So, Hans I hate you too, because I am still bleeding all over this one, my heart still prickles in pain as I write this but at the same time I have to thank you for sharing this amazing series with us and I can’t wait for Jonathan’s Legacy to be out so I can be kicked in the gut again!
Oh, Jonathan! I think that was the first thought that rushed through my mind after reading the last few sentences of Hans Hirschi’s, Jonathan’s Hope. I simply adore books, when you finish reading them you feel devastatingly happy, which in my world is a mix of pure bliss mixed with complete and utter heartbreak.
I’ve read many books in my life, there are many that has touched me in different ways, and that I’ll always remember, Jonathan’s Hope will become another one of those books that will not only get that special place on my bookshelf those books you have that you want to read again, but you dread doing so because you know that emotional turmoil they will bring, but will be of great inspiration.
Jonathan’s Hope, is about a young man, who is a couple weeks shy of his 18th birthday when the book starts. He’s driven out into the woods by his parents and left there to die for no other reason than because he’s gay. His father is a troubled man, a monster really, who has lost all faith in himself as well as in humanity. The only way for him to be able to live with himself and his own pain, to be able to take that next breath, is to inflict pain on others. At first I hated Jonathan’s father by the end I felt nothing but sadness and how society with its bigotry had failed yet another person.
Jonathan is more or less freezing and starving to death in the woods, trying to find his way, when a man and his dog appear and lead the way to a remote cabin in the woods, where the man, Dan and his dog lives. Spite his shyness, Jonathan finds the courage to knock on the door to the cabin and asks for help.
Dan, who one year prior, to Jonathan showing up on his doorstep, lost his partner and love of his life, Sean, in a hunting accident, lives a quiet and isolated life in their cabin that he and Sean renovated together. He is refusing to live life to it’s fullest, missing his Sean every day. That day when the knock on the door comes, he’s startled and almost shocked to who was out there, and when he finds the half frozen to death young man on his doorstep all of Dan’s own worries, pain and focus on himself disappears and all he ses is a young man in distress who need his help.
Over the next coming weeks, and months, you get to follow this amazing journey of two individuals, their own journeys and the one that they take together. Dan becomes the family that Jonathan never had, show’s him simple pleasures, as enjoying a real good cup of coffee, getting presents, eating food of the gods, and learn how it is to be love and love right back. Dan’s heart gets a chance to heal, when he himself learns that if a man is real lucky he will have more than one great love in a life, one better than the other, just different. In Jonathan he finds life, a reason for living. Dan finds the will to fight for himself and for Jonathan and together they fight for each other, to be together.
This is not just some random love story, with a 30 year old man falling in love with a man 13 years his junior, or a boy that has been so severely abused by his father since birth, that learning the simple joy of coffee is like winning the lottery. Well at least not only that because obviously it is about love and finding it for the first time or again, but it is also about finding yourself, learning your own value and to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. It is about not hating those who done you wrong but being able to forgive them for what they done to you, so you can move on and start living the life you deserve.
The end, if the ending had been the last chapter that I know from Hans was the end, without the epilogue, this would still have been a great book, but with the epilogue it became a fantastic book. The epilogue is what made Jonathan’s Hope become full circle. It is the epilogue that wraps up what this entire book is about, and again Hans Hirschi shows us how important family ties are to him, how influenced maybe he is and in reality we all are by where we come from, but spite our genes, our past and the environment we are brought up in we all have a choice in who we become. Cruelty doesn’t necessarily give birth to cruelty, no, instead the choice is always in our own hands to turn the boat around and sail towards our own destination, even if we have to sail in headwind most of the time, there will always be a harbor waiting for us to arrive safely.
You can find Hans on the following social medias:
It was with great curiosity that I set out to read this book, the fact that it was a personal gift from the author himself as we met for the first time right around Christmas, at a small cafe here in our hometown, Gothenburg was an amazing plus.
Sitting down with an actual book, a real book in my hands was a treat I forgotten how special that was. It also took me about 50% through the book to stop tapping the pages and think that action would flip the pages for me, which you get use to after only reading on a kindle for two years.
Hans, mind you now I've only met him once, talked to him several times, but Hans is this exuberant, honest and most interesting man to talk too, and really what you see is what you get. Hans, is extremely proud of his family, of his husband and their boy, it shows every time he mentions them how much he loves them. Heart to heart loves, no questions about it. He's open with how he feels about things and shares it with ease, without it being shoved down your throat, and that makes it welcoming to get to know him.
For the little over two hours we sat and talk about books, writing and how we wrote and why, where did our ideas come from and about family the more it felt like I was meeting a friend from 20 years ago. Someone you known before but hadn't seen in a long time.
So, why am I telling you about all of this for this review of Family Ties, because when getting this book from Hans he told me "this is my life story of sorts", at the time I didn't understand what those words meant but as I started reading Family Ties, and especially after finished reading Family Ties I understood maybe how personal it may actually be.
I could see what little I had seen of Hans, and learned by listening to him talk about himself and observed, in many of the characters, Sascha especially.
Family Ties, is exactly what the title says, a book about family and family bindings, what makes a family. It proves that family can be blood but it doesn't have to be, it shows that family can be that amazing man that saves you from living on the street, the man who loves you enough to dare live a life that is against society's norms, it can be those children that is part donor eggs, part surrogate mother and your partner's sperm, those children that isn't biologically yours, but still are by your loins and is more your family than the blood brother you never really got to know.
Family Ties, is an emotional journey of a whole family through Sascha's eyes, he let us follow him to Australia where fate teaches him harsh lessons no man or woman for that matter should ever have to learn, it let us follow the journey that two men takes on to be able to start their own family, spite the fact that many countries and society has negative ideas about other than man/woman couples having children. It's about learning that it is never too late to finding a middle ground with your blood family even if years, maybe even decades has past, you can still find understanding and become a family.
What I loved about this book the most are all the different stories weaved into one, and that they went so well together. You really got a full life story of Sascha and his husband Dan. You got to find out why their relationship was so special, understand why it works and was a match made in heaven. Hans really explains with such ease the connection of all relationships and why they were so important in Sascha's life and how they influenced him.
Family Ties, sure as it says, is a #LGBT book in its rightful definition. I don't say this about a lot of authors, I may just have said it to one other author, and that is Hans Hirschi write classics, books that will be in every book shelf, read because they give meaning to anyone who reads them, explain societal issues, and gives us as readers and people of this society a greater understanding for how it is to live in the real world as man, with a family with skeletons in the closet, and who just happens to be gay.
This is an author you have to read and experience on your own, Family Ties is a book I still over a week later of finish reading, still am thinking about and wonder in awe. I wonder how he manage to fit it all together so beautifully. That is just how good Hans Hirschi is at telling a story, he is a true storyteller.
You can find Hans on the following social medias:
Dreamer, Writer, Reader and Metal Head.