Two close friends -- Luke and Kazu -- discover a bold, new procedure to install hope into the hopeless and vow to open the world's first Hope Store. Their slogan: "We don't just instill hope. We install it." The media descend. The store is not without its supporters and detractors. Customer Jada Upshaw appears with a hidden agenda, but what happens next no one could have predicted. When protesters try to shut down the polarizing store, will science come to Jada's aid, or will it be up to Jada to save herself?
Early Reviews for Okita's 2nd Novel THE HOPE STORE from Amazon
"The writing is crystalline. However, there are hidden layers of emotion in deceptively simple scenes. I can see why there has been such a long wait between the author's titles: Hope, like Prospect, has been crafted into a masterpiece. The characters spring to life in this very exciting story. Jada, Luke, and Kazu are living, breathing people. They take you by the hand and pull you into their world." -- Alison DeLuca, Crown Phoenix Series
"Okita has a style that is easy to read and it’s full of joy and wonder. He does not rush the storyline, he takes his time in the character development….I am an avid reader and I must confess that this is one of my favorite books of 2017." -- Michael Jones, avid reader
"The truly remarkable thing about this novel is how it manages to dive deep into a profoundly serious subject with such a deft, light touch. Through the person of Jada Upshaw, we confront what most of us have experienced at one time or another: the loss -- or lack -- of hope. Through these marvelous characters, we confront this bleak deficit directly....If you've ever felt hope or hopelessness, you need to read this book." -- Amazon reviewer
Imagine if hope was a tangible thing, a commodity to be bought and sold. Local author Dwight Okita imagines a slightly altered reality where a Hope Store—part medical clinic, part relaxation studio—is open in Andersonville. His story is told from the perspectives of Jada, a woman literally born without hope, and Luke, the partner of the visionary scientist Kazu who came up with the Hope Installation.
As a person hopeless to the point of suicide, Jada wants to rain on the hope-store parade. She comes up with the idea to contract a freelance journalist to write an expose of the Hope Store; after all, surely it's a scam. But unexpected things happen when Jada gets her first dose of hope. Meanwhile, Luke struggles with the pressure of helping the business get off the ground: securing coverage from CNN, dealing with a pesky bunch of protesters who believe hope should be natural, appeasing his worried investors, and navigating his relationship with his business and romantic partner. Luke is keeping a secret from Kazu: he's not as responsive to the Hope Treatment as he pretended to be when they met in the clinical trial. It's a secret that undermines the very foundation of their relationship, let alone the scientific integrity of the business.
The Hope Store is a deceptively simple, engrossing read. Okita's research to create a believable therapeutic process is quite commendable and thought-provoking. He also primarily operates inside his character's heads, which creates some interesting dynamics as Luke and Jada observe each other without any idea of what the reader already knows. Okita's writing is easy and conversational, despite the darkest moments. Be warned of attempted suicide—although that is in fact one of the most vivid scenes of The Hope Store and is done in a genuine, thoughtful manner.
Overall, The Hope Store is a worthy thought experiment and a tale decently told. Okita clearly has a love for science and magical realism and mixes that with an uncommon amount of empathy and interspersonal dynamics. You will want to know how everyone ultimately copes with the sudden infusion of hope in their lives ... and might perhaps find yourself wishing said store was a place you could go.