Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Life with pie

When your parents name you Tulip, would you have your name changed? That's exactly what our character in Joan Bauer's novel, Hope Was Here, did. So, our Tulip is now known as Hope, a name that's quite ominous in this wonderful young adult novel.

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 can see why this novel received lots of critical acclaim (a Newbery honor, an ALA notable book, an ALA BBYA). It's hard to find something not to love in Bauer's story. Hope doesn't go overboard with her angst. The romance between Hope and her co-worker in the diner doesn't seem forced. Even the way the novel ended is bittersweet, which I feel makes the novel very grounded.

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:
  1. You've always wanted to have your name changed.
  2. You miss eating at a diner.
  3. You know how important it is to always be hopeful.


Tina said...

I've seen Joan Bauer's books too, but I never browsed through them. This seems right up my alley. Thanks for the review, Peter! :)

Peter S. said...

Hi, Tina! You're welcome! I think you'll enjoy Bauer's books!

Louize DG said...

Hi Peter!
This is interesting, both Hope and the foooood. Adding this to my TBR. :)

Peter S. said...

It's very, very interesting indeed, Louize!