Hope Was Here may probably seem to be a novel that wants to say a lot of things. There's the story about Hope and her aunt Addie who move from New York City to work in a diner in a small town in Wisconsin. There's another story about the owner of that diner who decides to run for mayor, never mind that he's been diagnosed with cancer. Another story delves into the corrupt politics of that Wisconsin town. And yet another is a coming-of-age of sorts for Hope as she realizes her worth.
I do believe that, despite these many story lines, Bauer's novel is just about one thing, and that's having hope. That message comes across clearly in every page of the novel.
There are also lots of characters that readers may feel very emphatic about. Of course, my favorite is Hope, who appears to be quite cynical at first but learns to accept that everything may not turn out well. Her aunt Addie is a character one can easily relate with. We all have our Addie, that adult who seems to have our backs every time we falter. It also helps that Addie makes a mean pie and lots of delicious comfort food. Bauer's description of the food they serve in the diner makes one salivate. Here are a few:
- Stuffed pork tenderloin with apricots
- Country meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes
- Deep dish apple pie with cinnamon ice cream
- Brown sugar pecan pancakes
- Split pea soup with ham chunks and garlic butter croutons
- Grilled Swiss cheese on seven-grain bread with sliced tomatoes
I've always seen Bauer's books in bookstores but have been very hesitant in picking up one. I'm so glad I did though! Hope Was Here is one fine novel. It's a novel that you'll be pushing to your friends, especially to those who, for whatever reason, have become pessimistic, cynical, and unhappy.
Read this book if:
- You've always wanted to have your name changed.
- You miss eating at a diner.
- You know how important it is to always be hopeful.