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HOPE WAS HERE by Joan Bauer

HOPE WAS HERE

By Joan Bauer

Age Range: 11 - 16

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-23142-0
Publisher: Putnam

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 well-adjusted, 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 over-idealized; 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 peopled with interesting and quirky characters. (Fiction. 11-16)