on June 2nd, 2005
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Hope is a 16-year-old girl, living a nomadic lifestyle with her aunt Addie. Addie is a chef and restaurant manager, and Hope works as a waitress. They're always moving from place to place, and the story opens with them up-rooting from Brooklyn, New York. Before she leaves, Hope scribbles 'Hope Was Here' onto the menu board - it's become her motto, a ritual she carries out whenever they have to hit the road - again. Hope's a city girl and she isn't sure how she's going to tackle life in 'cow country'. Things start hotting up for her, though, when she gets embroiled in the local politics of Mulhoney, Wisconsin while working at the Welcome Stairways diner- Soon, Hope is tackling big issues about her own past, while grappling with some surprising developments in her new home town.
This was a wonderfully short yet beautiful novel that I really enjoyed. It only takes you a few hours to read it, which is a definite perk to picking it up in the first place. I’ve only read one book from Joan Bauer in the past and that was Rules of the Road. I found that one to be completely touching and a fun read as a whole. Not going to lie, it definitely made me cry. Hope Was Here also had similar emotions: funny but also sad. Strangely, this one was rather accurate to what’s going on in the world when it comes to politics. Really though, there’s a rather crooked politician who manipulates pretty much everyone in the town except a few good people who are made aware of what exactly is going on. Sounds familiar, right? Anyway, this was a nice read and I’m happy that I picked it up.
Hope was easily the highlight of the book for me. She has a wonderful and fierce personality from the very first page. She just had some of the best and laugh out loud funny lines. She was a character that I was personally able to identify with. Though she could be a little immature at times, she was still relatable and fascinating. She’s one of my new favorite female characters! She’s an inspirational character, and she reminded me a lot of a Sarah Dessen heroine.
There isn’t much romance in this book so I’m not really going to touch on that at all. However, the romance between Hope and a cute cook at the restaurant where her and her aunt worked. That wasn’t really that big of a plot point, but it was still a sweet little side story that went on. A lot of the romance isn’t actually between Hope and anyone, it’s actually between her aunt and the kind owner of the restaurant who is also running for mayor. The main focus of the story is really about non-romantic relationships. Hope doesn’t know much about her mother besides the waitressing tips that she gives her when she visits her every now and then. Her aunt Addie is the one who takes care of her and does everything she can to provide for her. They move to a lot of different places and work at a lot of different restaurants but this place is one of their favorite places yet.
I found Hope Was Here to be a wonderful and charming short little read. I’m happy that I had the chance to read another book from Joan Bauer. She’s written yet another memorable story filled with a fantastic cast of characters. I mentioned it earlier, but this story reminds me a lot of a Sarah Dessen book, specifically Keeping the Moon, which also featured characters who worked in a restaurant. This was a refreshing and enlightening read. Though it was written awhile ago, it still felt just as timely as ever. It wasn’t a perfect book by any means, it could have been a little longer which would have allowed for more character growth. However, it was still pretty freaking good and I look forward to reading more from Joan Bauer.