North of Hope - Jon Hassler Lovely. Jon Hassler is sort of the Richard Russo of Northern Minnesota. I would happily have read an entire book about these characters as teenagers. I was just so charmed by the Linden Falls of 1950, but Hassler had a different story to tell. After introducing us to Frank and Libby as youngsters, he jumps forward 25 years to examine the ways in which life choices at the age of 17 or 18 determine what our lives will look like at middle age. I fell in love with Father Frank Healy in somewhat the same way I fell in love with Father Melancholy in Gail Godwin's novel. While I don't share their religious beliefs or dedication to ritual, I do admire some clerics for their devotion to service. What stands out most boldly about Frank is not his Catholicism, but his willingness to BE THERE, any time, any place, for anyone who needs him. He offers steadfast friendship, money, protection, nonjudgmental advice, humor, and most of all, HOPE.After a dreadful winter, Libby says to Frank, "It's like hope doesn't reach this far north." To which Frank replies, "But it does, Libby. Hope goes wherever you want it to." To me, that is Frank's purpose in the lives of his parishioners. He is hope incarnate.