DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Hope City


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Two teenage boys seek adventure and fortune in the gold-mining towns of Alaska.

Seeking adventure and a fortune, Sam Rothman and his best friend Liam leave Washington State for Alaska in the summer of 1898. Sam is encouraged by his parents to change his name so no one discovers he is Jewish. As Percy Hope, he steps off the boat and is chosen to be the namesake of the new town – Hope City. While he and Liam try to seek an honest go of finding gold, they are both tempted by the neighboring town’s saloon owner Mr. Vega at almost every turn to go down the wrong path. 

Percy then meets Ella Carson, who turns his head and encourages him to go to church with him – a Catholic Church. He can’t blow his cover and let anyone know he’s Jewish so he goes along with her. The reverend then points him out as a person sent to help their town since the town is now named after him. Only 17 years old, Percy feels his life slipping out of his control.

Hope City is a coming of age story set amongst the wildness of an untamed Alaska. The towns of Hope and Sunrise are opposites of each other – one has a church and one has a saloon. However, as Sunrise looks to bring law and order due to its size, the church’s influence is felt since half of the people in Sunrise attend church in Hope. Mr. Vega runs for mayor and wins, but even he finds out he can’t be above the law.

While the Alaskan setting and life in a gold town back then is true to life, there is some language that doesn’t fit the setting. Readers will learn how gold mining is done and how the gold rush affected people’s lives and morals. There is some Norse mythology that some characters follow that some readers might be unfamiliar with. 

There is slight romance and some crude thinking, as is probably true to any 17-year-old boy. While Percy stumbles and falls, he also has a wisdom that most boys his age would not possess. It most likely comes from working long hours in his father’s dry goods store.

The church leader being called a reverend instead of a priest might bother Catholics who read the book. He gets to decide to move to Alaska with all his possessions, when priests are told where to go and usually have few possessions. Also, Percy just fits right in at a Catholic service, while in real life, anyone not familiar with the rituals of a Catholic service would feel out of place. 

Hope City has many twists and turns that will keep the reader wondering what will happen next. The hero is not perfect and the villain is not completely callous. Friendships and love are tested. In the spirit of their high school graduation speaker – Jack London – both Liam and Sam find life is an adventure if you take chances.

Reviewed by

I love to read and my friends and family seek me out for book suggestions. I have a blog with more than 300 book reviews now. I am also a freelance writer and am working on a novel.

About the author

Neil’s writing have been described as organic; meaning he works with a general storyline for his characters and plot, rather than with a formal, detailed outline. This encourages his writing to offer surprising twists and unexpected outcomes, which readers have celebrated. view profile

Published on June 20, 2020

Published by

80000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by