Reviewed

“Hope and Other Superpowers” by John Pavlovitz

The full title of the book I’m here to review today is… Hope and Other Superpowers: A Life-Affirming, Love-Defending, Butt-Kicking, World-Saving Manifesto. John Pavlovitz wrote this book and, presumably, picked the title. It is possibly the longest title I’ve ever seen but the book is absolutely worth ever hyphen in the title.

A few things, first.

When I requested the ARC of this nonfiction book from NetGalley (thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the chance to read it and offer my thoughts!), I picked it because the title seemed ambitious and I was trying to pick outside my genre-comfort zone, so I picked self-help. I did not realize that John Pavlovitz is a pastor, I did not realize that John Pavlovitz is considered one of the more liberal prominent pastors in the country, and I did not realize that the ‘superpower’ part of the title meant I’d need a working knowledge of comic book heroes to get the analogies made in this book.

When I realized these three things, as I started the book, I was quickly wary because I am agnostic, I’m generally skeptical of the motives of megachurch pastors, and I’ve never seen a comic book movie (Marvel or DC or whatever else there is, it’s all very confusing).

However, and this is an important part, Hope and Other Superpowers is not about why I should go to church and give myself up to Jesus, let him take the wheel as Carrie Underwood sings. Pavlovitz mentions being a pastor but I had the sense that he was not writing as pastor to his flock, but as a human being to other human beings. And, possibly less important but very surprising, I really want to watch all the comic book movies!

I was going to say I didn’t expect this book to be what it was but I don’t know what I expected it to be so I will say this…

I didn’t know I needed to read this book, but I did.

It’s in part a call to larger action, in that it’s fairly obvious how Pavlovitz feels about the current president, but it’s also a call to any action at all. A reminder that every single action we undertake has a ripple effect on both our own lives and the wider world. The underlying theme is that we all have the power to be the superheroes we see in movies and comic books, even when the simplest task seems so impossible. It’s about the fact that when we take care of ourselves, we can also make our world better for it. It’s a guide that asks me to take stock of myself, to take better care of myself, and take better care of the world.

I’m going to read this book again, and again. I needed this book, at this moment in my life, and I know I’ll need it again.

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