- 1st place – Inspirational
- 2nd place – Non-fiction
- 3rd place – Spirituality
The comments of the judging panel for these awards included the following:
“The sensitive, persuasive, and gentle presentation of the author’s personal experience may strengthen his readers’ trust in the value of their own experiences, including less intense ones than the ones the author describes…”
“This book did a good job of taking a personal experience and making it more general for people undergoing a similar experience or transformation. I thought it put mysticism in the appropriate context without overdoing it. It would make a good discussion book for the right audience, and proved to be an interesting and engaging read without being off-putting about a topic that is often difficult to read about…”
“Well written, quietly open-hearted story of a transcendent experience within the context of the author’s personal life… …readers may find encouragement from the book for their own faith journeys…”
“…the author has set himself a difficult task, that of explaining the ineffable, and I think he’s done an admirable job… …His various descriptions of times when he came into a realization of the Absolute (or G-d), such as when he had an out-of-body experience in hight school, his experience in the chapel, or the moment of his father’s leaving of the body, are very strong. I feel as if I am there…”
Some Additional Reviews of Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty:
Janette Fuller – Books Inspiration and Life This book is about a spiritual journey but has nothing to do with organized religion. The author deals with questions about life, death and the after-life. I found that I could deeply relate to the thoughts and feelings that Mr. Hanson expresses in this book. My father died less than one year ago and I felt many of the same emotions that are expressed in this book. I feel a definite kinship with Mr. Hanson and his family. He opened his heart and expressed things that most people could never put into words.
There might be some who are not willing to delve into the highly personal thoughts of transition and transcendence. If so, this book is not for you. However, if your heart is open and willing to explore new spiritual places, this book will touch your heart in a very special way.
Seattle Post Intelligencer:
In a time of unrest and world troubles, spirituality begins to eke back in the mainstream of society. Looking for the ever-elusive answers, many search for the process of belief.
Among this trouble and turmoil, Neil Hanson has brought forth an in-depth work of his own experiences, both as a young man and later as a grieving son. In Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty, we follow the ever-expanding view and belief of Hanson as he puts his thoughts and feelings on paper in the form of a letter to his departed father.
His story is written with emotion and feeling. His emotions show through, and whether they are his anger or his hope he shares them with the reader. He does not hide or try to belittle the mistakes he has made on his journey; he just states them as they are.
He does a brilliant job of allowing his emotion to show through, and yet he does not push his belief as the only answer. He shares his experiences of a possible after death experience: one that happened in a wrestling tournament when he was young and knocked unconscious. Even knowing at that time that something extraordinary has happened, he is not ready to believe or to share his experience.
It was only as he sits with his father as his life slowly slid away and watches the finality of the process that he is again offered a glimpse of that certain something the many often search for throughout their lives.
If you are a believer in a higher being, regardless of religious belief, or even a non-believer, you will find the poignancy of the story both sad and yet interesting. The beauty of the words adds a bit of poetry and harmony.
Through it all Hanson makes no excuses; he highlights his selfishness and thoughtlessness, as well as the beauty and wonder. I enjoyed the text in the form of a letter, although at times, I could not find the letter itself, and it read more like the passage of a self-expose.
If you are at all interested in spirituality or just wonder about the beauty of the universe, this would be a wonderful book for you. It is short and compact but carries hope and joy, along with a different way to look at life. In Hanson’s uncertainty, there is a form of verse and beauty: a certain creativity and sensitivity that guide you through the life of the author.
This would be a great book for a book club, a chance to talk about beliefs and thoughts. It would be a chance to air perceptions and interests, and lend credibility to both sides of the conversation.
Midwest Book Review
Death is the final frontier. It is the destination of every person to walk the face of the Earth. It is unavoidable, inescapable, unknowable – yet it holds such a mysterious fascination. Any book examining death from a personal perspective immediately becomes universal in scope. We all seek to find out what lies beyond. We yearn for answers, yet fear what is impossible to discern. In Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty, Neil Hanson recounts the spiritually charged moment of experiencing firsthand his father’s passing. In that hospital room, he witnessed the veil, separating life and death, briefly lift in his presence. It was a profound encounter that continues to shape his outlook on life.
Hanson wrote the book 15 years after his father’s death. It is composed in letter format as he attempts to correspond with his father on a spiritual plane. He hopes that by expressing his thoughts and emotions on paper the message will reverberate to where his father’s soul now resides. Hanson stresses two points. First, he says he’s sorry for any stress his youthful misbehavior may have caused and that he forgives his father for not always being there for him when he was growing up. Second, he tells his father that he loves him. Contrition, forgiveness and love are what Hanson yearns to tell his father from the very depths of his heart.
The emphasis behind this communication is that Hanson’s father was brought to the hospital in a coma from which he never recovered. The unexpected nature of the situation left no room for closure. Hanson was never able to talk with his dad again. While his body was still physically present for the remaining time they had together, his mind was not. This absence of words prompted Hanson to write this book. He longed to be able to communicate with his father one last time.
While Christian in nature, the book is pluralistic in tone. Hanson does not endorse any particular faith and in fact finds that many organized religions hinder people from connecting with the divine. He feels people are desperately searching for ways to experience God in their lives, and that they are not provided with the proper spiritual instruction on how to achieve this desire.
His own divine awakening began as a teenager at a high school wrestling tournament. When he was thrown to the ground during a match, he felt his soul leave his body. The atmosphere around him became suffused with light and harmony. Everything was silent, but for what seemed like a chorus of angels filling his ears. He felt a sense of peace he never knew existed. He had entered a state of utter bliss. It was magical, mystical. Until he floated up to the ceiling and noticed the dust on a light fixture, his soul with a pop immediately reunited with his body on the mat. Being able to notice something ordinary like dust, Hanson took to mean that he was still tethered to the ties of this world.
It wasn’t until his father drew his last breath that this doorway opened to him again. Albeit, this time he was only allowed to peek through the keyhole and not walk through the door. The same immense feelings engulfed him as his father’s soul became separated from his body. While ultimately feeling sad for their impending separation, Hanson also experienced an overwhelming sense of joy as he felt a divine presence enter the room. With his heart rapidly beating and tears streaming down his face, he was granted the privilege of witnessing his father cross the dividing line between life and death.
In a beautiful passage, Hanson recounts the joy of impending fathers in the hospital’s maternity ward at the arrival of their newborn babies. What happiness to be there for your child on such a momentous occasion. As his father’s soul slips away he realizes the circular nature of the journey. As the son is now there for the father as he returns to the place from which he was born.
Overall, Hanson beautifully relates the privilege of being able to witness the last breath of a loved one.
Krystal at Live to Read
Neil allows the reader to experience very personal moments with him. He utilizes the form of “Dear Dad” to express his feelings and emotions as he remains in the ICU with his dying father. He is going through a process of grieving and letting go. The reader will realize that Neil has a strong moral character and is a wonderful son. Neil contemplates the past years, thinking of his experiences, emotions, life lessons…. The reader is very fortunate that Neil is willing to share his innermost thoughts. The author lays out his thoughts so candidly, that it is hard to question the truth behind his words. A non-religious reader will not need to worry, the author manages to stay on the spiritual side without touching much of the religious side.
This book was heartfelt and emotional. It is a book worth reading at any time in one’s life, there are plenty of lessons and thoughts to think over that the reader will take away. There are so many quotes in this book that the reader will remember and enjoy. The book is a short read, but that adds to the book’s appeal-the author goes right to the point of the matter. This book is recommended to teen/young adult/adult readers.
Red Haircrow Reviews:
The writing is sincere, and you can clearly feel the deep emotion the author drew upon to pen his words… …it’s flowing style and honest personal message because it attempts to speak of Truth and Wisdom…
A Moment With Mystee Reviews
This book by Neil Hanson allows you a rare glimpse into personal experience. I know you’re asking, “What’s new about that?” We’ve read hundreds of books on accomplishments and what a preferred method is. This book, however, is not another one of those books. We hear about mistakes, weaknesses, bleak moments. To hear that some of what he writes about, some is what we have felt/done… it’s almost refreshing.
It’s not good that anyone goes through certain things, but knowing you aren’t alone in them, somehow makes them slightly easier to get through. Knowing someone has overcome them, all the better.
I read this book in one sitting, while not very long, there is a wealth of knowledge in the pages that are there. This is a wonderful late Sunday afternoon read.
Boulder Book Store: In an elegant and accessible story, Neil Hanson provides a moving account of a man’s journey to the edge of death. Those with doubt about the spiritual dimensions of life will be rewarded with a story that nurtures their search for the Truth hidden behind the veil of certainty. Those who haven’t pushed aside that veil may find a way to grasp the blessing of uncertainty.
Blue Ink Reviews Hanson explores and explains a profound spiritual connection to something larger than himself (i.e. God), which he was unable to comprehend fully until he sat at the dying man’s hospital bedside. Hanson’s ongoing battle between the “soul within and the ego without” reflects his struggles with uncertainty, denial and dysfunctional relationships. While he endeavors to understand why his own enlightenment had to come through personal suffering and loss, he accepts the majesty of Nature and the power of prayer. Hanson tackles some difficult and elusive concepts here as he tries to integrate many diverse beliefs into his own… his life stories are both engaging and inspiring. This book will appeal to the Recovery community and fans of Neale Donald Walsch and Louise Hay.