Groopman struggles to define hope with examples set by various patients, from those most devoid of hope to those buoyed by hope in the face of what often is terminal illness. A definition of hope seems obvious; yet as the author marches through the stories of his patients and his own development as a physician treating those who often die of their disease, he increasingly refines and clarifies his meaning. Although "spirituality" is a hot topic in medicine today, Groopman strives to define what hope might mean for people who do not believe in an immortal soul, life after death, or God. He does tie hope to a sense of spirituality, but several of his patients are deeply religious members of traditional religions, and he shows how rigid adherence to religious views can deprive as much as nourish hope. The stories are devastatingly poignant; read this book with a box of tissues at your side.