What happens when a saucy, optimistic teenager and a terrific short-order diner cook head to Mulhoney, Wisconsin? Great apple pie, a killer mayoral election, and a heartfelt story about life in a rural town.
Readers will immediately fall in love with 16-year-old Hope. She has bounced from place to place, serving plates of meat loaf and frittata specials to diner patrons cooked up by her aunt Addie, with whom she lives. Since changing her name from Tulip to Hope, this protagonist always tries to live up to her name, offering readers an uplifting look at politics, love, friendship, and, literally, life, as a waitress at G. T. Stoop's Welcome Stairways diner.
G. T., who is battling leukemia, decides to run for mayor of the town, so his diner, which is perpetually crowded with customers, becomes a hotbed of political activity. It is there that Hope shines as she runs around refilling coffee mugs, soothing customers whose orders have been screwed up, and fielding questions from curious voters. And it is in this small town's diner that she finds what has been missing from her life.
Hope experiences love for the first time with junior short-order cook Braverman. Unlike the brainless relationships found in the Sweet Valley High series, this relationship is more in tune with first romances that real teenagers experience. At first they banter back and forth, but Braverman's winning pork-chop sandwich and his deep compassion for Hope when her mother comes to visit culminate in a passionate relationship built on friendship and trust.
This friendship and trust is also at the heart of G. T.'s mayoral battle. Hope and Braverman, among others, rally together, fighting initially to get G. T.'s name on the ballot and later on, as the corrupt incumbent mayor will do anything (planting a mouse in an entrée at G. T.'s diner) and everything (having Braverman beat up because he is involved in the campaign) to get reelected. And just when the politics get really dirty,
Hope Was Here gives readers a reason to believe in the political system.
An underlying thread in
Hope Was Here is Hope's secret desire to one day meet her estranged father. While her father never does appear in Hope Was Here, she does get the next best thing -- a father figure in G. T. She fosters a relationship with G. T., who praises her waitress skills and serves as an inspiration to not only Hope, but also all of the people in the town. At one point, the two are strolling outside in back of the diner and looking at the trees that G. T. has planted. G. T. says, "I like thinking [the trees will] be here long after I'm gone. All those fine memories pushing up to the sky."
To which Hope replies, "I hope you're here for the longest time possible, G. T."
It is at that moment, Hope gains a father and a home in this rural town she thought she would loathe. Once accustomed to writing "Hope was here" on an old window ledge or on a wall before she departed from one of the countless places she lived, Hope, as well as her aunt Addie, form roots in this town of good people and finally stay put.
Hope Was Here offers a refreshing outlook on being a teenager and gives readers a little hope of their own.
Of this tale of a 16-year-old waitress who searches for a sense of belonging, PW said that the prose, "often rich in metaphor, brings Hope's surroundings and her emotions to life. Readers are likely to gobble this up like so much comfort food." Ages 10-14. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Bauer (Rules of the Road; Squashed) serves up agreeable fare in this tale of a teenage waitress's search for a sense of belonging. Sixteen-year-old Hope has grown used to the nomadic life she has built with her aunt Addie, a talented diner cook. She doesn't mind the hard work it takes to make a diner hum; she seems to have inherited a knack for waiting tables from the free-spirit mom (Addie's younger sister) who abandoned her years ago. But Hope would gladly give up always having to say good-bye to friends and places she loves. When Addie accepts a new job that takes the pair from Brooklyn to the Welcome Stairways diner in Mulhoney, Wis., Hope never could have imagined the big changes ahead of her. She and Addie shine in the small-town milieu and gladly offer to help diner owner G.T. Stoop, who is battling leukemia, run for mayor. Along the way, Addie and Hope both find love, and Hope discovers the father figure she has so desperately wanted. Readers will recognize many of Bauer's hallmarks here--a strong female protagonist on the road to self-discovery, quirky characters, dysfunctional families, a swiftly moving story, moments of bright humor. Her vivid prose, often rich in metaphor (e.g., Hope's description of the Brooklyn diner: "The big, oval counter... sat in the middle of the place like the center ring in a circus"), brings Hope's surroundings and her emotions to life. The author resolves a few of her plot points a bit too tidily, but her fans won't mind. They're likely to gobble this up like so much comfort food. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gr 7 Up-Joan Bauer's story (Putnam, 2000) of 16-year-old Hope Yancey's discovery of fatherly love, romance, community, and her own inner resources comes to life in actress Jenna Lamia's youthful reading. Hope, raised by her peripatetic diner cook Aunt Addie since her mother deserted her at birth, changed her own name from the regrettable Tulip to the perfectly apropos Hope when she was 12. Now Hope and her aunt have moved once again, this time to a small Wisconsin town where the local diner owner is fighting leukemia and, upon their arrival, takes on dirty politics as well. Like Bauer's other heroines, Hope is both strong and a bit uncertain, her story tinted with good humor and touched by pathos. Hope slowly comes to accept the small Wisconsin town as home, other diner staff as family, and the owner as the father she might have had. Braverman, the cook's assistant, makes a perfect first boyfriend, being neither weaker than Hope nor less sensitive. Lamia voices these characters perfectly as they discuss the menu specials, civic corruption, and the inevitable resurgence of cancer in G. T. Stoop's blood. Bauer's story is a delight, and this audio presentation enhances it.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Another entry in Bauer's growing collection of books about likable and appealing female teenagers with a strong vocational calling. Ivy Breedlove in Backwater (1999) is a historian, Jenna Boller in Rules of the Road (1998) is a talented salesperson, and Hope Yancey's gift is for waitressing. As the novel begins, Hope, 16, and her aunt Addie are about to move from Brooklyn to Mulhoney, Wisconsin, where Addie will manage and cook for a diner called the Welcome Stairways. Hope, whose mother abandoned her as an infant and who has never known her father, is pretty welladjusted, all things considered. She throws herself into her new life in the small town, working on the grassroots mayoral campaign of the diner's owner, quickly acquiring a boyfriend and friends, and proving herself to be a stellar waitress (she's been working in restaurants most of her life, after all, and one of the few things her mother has given her is a list of waitressing tips). Despite having moved so often and having had such inadequate biological parents, Hope isn't afraid to connect to people. The relationship between Hope and G.T., the man who owns the diner and who eventually marries her aunt is especially touching and sweetly portrayed. He's everything Hope ever wished for in a father. It could be said that the occupation of waitressing is overidealized; it's portrayed as the noblest of professions. But the lessons she's learned from the job are essential to Hope's character and a part of why the plot develops as it does. More important, and as always from Bauer, this novel is full of humor, starring a strong and idealistic protagonist, packed with funny lines, and peopledwithinteresting and quirky characters. (Fiction. 1116)