While The Book of Hope is marketed as written by Goodall and Abrams, that's a little misleading. The text is a skillful arranging of transcribed conversations between the two, with Abrams speaking in first person and Goodall directly contributing only the introduction and conclusion. This observation is not a complaint. On the contrary: This format makes perfect sense, and not because at age 87 Goodall needs to take it easy. She remains committed to a grueling schedule of public speaking and interacting with others about our planetary crisis ... From these conversations emerge an informative road map of ideas for ways in which every person may help bring about positive change in the world. This guidance is rooted firmly in an awareness of how bad things really have gotten. It's good to see Goodall mention nationalism, racism and sexism in this context, as well as global inequalities in wealth, though her focus remains on the environment ... Last of Goodall's reasons to hope is what she calls the indomitable human spirit, the ability we have individually and collectively to wrest a victory from what appears to be an inevitable defeat. In one way, this section goes a little awry...Not everyone with physical limitations, however, will be able to overcome them, nor should they be celebrated only if they can; disabled and abled people may show an indomitable spirit in many different ways ... One of the book's most welcome aspects is that Abrams plays the role of a skeptic, repeatedly voicing questions that may occur to us as we read ... Most of Goodall's statements do — or, I believe, should — speak to all of us ... Most wonderfully of all, Goodall calls each of us to action.
... unfurls as a series of engaging conversations and fascinating stories that Goodall hopes will touch the heart as well as the mind, with Abrams teasing out her thoughts and ideas. Through substantive interviews, we get a sense of a lively woman of brilliant intellect, keen insight, and impish humor, soft-spoken and empathetic yet passionate. The book also clearly demonstrates that Goodall’s urgency surrounding the issue of climate change is allied with hope ... She is unflinching in her assessment of the dire state of our planet. Yet she maintains that there is a window of time in which we can still repair much of the harm inflicted on the natural world – but in addition to hope, there is a need for action, engagement, even anger. Not new ideas, of course. But even for this initially cynical reader, Goodall’s eloquent reflections prove strikingly persuasive and often profoundly moving ... She illuminates the interconnected tapestry of life with extraordinary tales of animals and plants brought back from the brink ... Throughout, the book is seeded with captivating photos that bring people and places to life ... At times, the book’s digressions and repetitions impede the flow, and the conversational tone can get a bit cloying. The meat of Goodall’s wisdom could have made for a slimmer, pithier read. But Abrams is especially effective as devil’s advocate when his skepticism kicks in and he challenges, pushing for clarity. And Goodall never fails to rise to the occasion.
Her voice is reminiscent of that of the accessible and practical 16th-century nun St. Teresa of Ávila, or the 19th-century St. Therese of Lisieux, whose teachings are still prevalent today ... Goodall does indeed lay out the facts, and they are grim, but she also tells numerous stories of resilience and ingenuity, and she steadfastly believes in the power of the young. Her message is contagious, her gentleness persuasive, her wisdom deep, and if this little book were to be gifted in households across the world this holiday season, then perhaps her message of hope would grow roots and shoots and unite us in her rallying cry[.]