Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for TeensReadToo.com
HOPE WAS HERE is a brilliant book by an equally brilliant author, Joan Bauer. When I read this book for the first time (my copy is worn; I've read it so often!), I was an instant fan of the author. HOPE WAS HERE is worth your time, worth your money, and worth anything else that you have to do to get your hands on this book.
Hope is a sixteen-year-old waitress who has lived all across America with her Aunt Addie. Hope's mother (who, upon seeing her tiny baby for the first time, named her Marigold, of all things. Addie's twelfth birthday present to her niece was a name change.) has long been out of the picture, visiting only occasionally with tidbits of advice.
Waitressing at the diner in Brooklyn was great for Hope, but, like all good things, it comes to an end. The owner stole all of the money and ran off, leaving Addie and Hope with nothing. The two of them boarded up the windows, and, just before driving off, Hope left her mark: Hope Was Here, in blue ballpoint pen at the edge of one of the boards.
Addie and Hope are off to a small town in Wisconsin. When they get there, they meet G.T., the owner of the local diner where Addie will be cooking and Hope will be waitressing. G.T is a man the town loves, and he's going to run for mayor and change things. The current mayor, a scheming, dishonest typical politician, isn't standing for that, though. He's got to bring up how G.T. has leukemia, and is dying. How, he says, can a man who is dying take care of an entire town? He might not be alive in a few months.
G.T. isn't alone, though. Hope, Addie, and countless others are trying to get him elected, so that he can do some good for the town. Even though things are hard, they've still got to have hope.
This novel is amazing. HOPE WAS HERE is a book that you will not read only once, but over and over. It sticks with you. Part of this is due to the well thought-out characters, especially Hope. She is a strong character, but also a strong person. She's been through a lot, and she's still around, serving up food to hungry customers.
Her waitressing jobs have a lot to do with who Hope is. Maybe to some people (you know the type--not good enough unless you've got a diploma from Harvard), waitressing seems like a dead-end job, but this book shows different sides of it.
HOPE WAS HERE is a page-turner that will keep you riveted from the first word (which happens to be "somehow"), to the last ("had"), and when it's over, you'll want more. Luckily for us, Joan Bauer has written several other books for young adults, including BACKWATER, RULES OF THE ROAD, and SQUASHED. They're just as good as HOPE WAS HERE, too, and that's saying something!