When All You Have Is Hope.


223 pages
ISBN 978-0-670-06427-4
DDC 338'.04092






Reviewed by Robert W. Sexty

Robert W. Sexty is a commerce professor at the Memorial University of
Newfoundland and author of Canadian Business: Issues and Stakeholders.


This autobiography, prepared with the assistance of a ghostwriter, focuses on the life experiences of Frank O’Dea, with passing coverage and analysis of his business accomplishments as a co-founder of Second Cup and other businesses. O’Dea faced many challenges through life, including alcoholism, sexual abuse by trusted adults, a non-supportive family environment, failed personal relationships, disagreeable business partners, uncooperative politicians, and incompetent bureaucrats.


Anecdotes are strung together from his early teens to the present, mostly in a chronological sequence articulating how the author overcame his failings or confronted challenges. Although his involvement with Second Cup is highlighted, the book gives few insights into the successful start-up and operation of a franchise-type business. This is unfortunate and would have been an area of benefit to potential entrepreneurs. The author’s personal views of various issues are prevalent. For example, he rants about the incompetence of the Canadian bureaucracy and the superiority of the American one. Little of substance is given to support the positions taken and there are no references, footnotes, or bibliography. Nor is there a table of contents or an index.


Later chapters outline the author’s involvement and commitment to public service through support of charitable organizations. O’Dea played a prominent role in advocating the removal of landmines and increasing the awareness of AIDS in developing countries through animated films. He was declared an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004.


Today, the author is a motivational speaker delivering, according to the book’s jacket cover, a message of “Hope, Vision, and Action.” Throughout the book, the reader is searching for the author’s purpose and message. It is not until the acknowledgements page at the end that there is any insight. The author states that writing the book “became the best possible catharsis.” The author’s motivation is possibly explained, but this does not help the reader understand the book’s purpose and gives little foundation for hope, vision, and action.


O'Dea, Frank., “When All You Have Is Hope.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28676.