05 May 2012

Book Review: Hope Was Here


Title: Hope Was Here
Author: Joan Bauer

Synopsis: When Hope and her aunt, Addie, move from New York City to Mulhoney, Wisconsin, changes are expected. Thankfully, Hope has grown up adapting. Left by her mother to be raised by her aunt, Hope is attempting to personify her name in life. When she first arrives in Wisconsin, she doesn't know what to expect but soon she is wrapped up in waitressing at the Welcome Stairways and assisting in a political campaign as G.T. Stoop (the restaurant owner who has leukemia) runs for mayor. A lot of people are hoping in Mulhoney...

Positives: Hope is fighting to give herself and others hope. She is a selfless teen who wants to brighten people's days and is an ideal waitress. She enjoys waitressing because she isn't thinking about herself when she does it. There is a message for teens in this book, declaring that they can make a difference, no matter what society says about them, as stated in the book, "You think all teenagers care about are musicians and movie stars? Spend some time in Wisconsin. We'll blow your socks off" (122). Furthermore, because G.T. Stoop has leukemia, he is looking to make his days count, living every day like it is his last and enjoying the time he has been given. G.T. Stoop displays an exemplary attitude even when he loses in situations, "Losing . . . isn't anything to be ashamed of" (163). Hope struggles throughout the book with her mom not loving her, and the fact that she's never met her dad. Yet, when she is adopted in the end of the book, she states, "Last week I looked up the word father in my dictionary: Here's the definition: A man who has begotten a child. But I think Mr. Webster didn't get it quite right. A father isn't just woven from strands of DNA. A true father is dedicated and unshakebly there for his kids every single day" (175). Telling the truth is also an important aspect in this story and is encouraged, with people looking for politicians who will tell the truth even amidst all the political corruption. As G.T. Stoop states, "Politics . . . isn't about power, control, or manipulation. It's about serving up your very best" (176).

Negatives: The preacher in the town uses scripture towards political ends, so that while he is speaking truth, he at one point manipulates someone into feeling guilty and therefore helping the political campaign. Some violence (a boy gets beat up, some other guys harass Hope), but justice and honor win out in the end.

Messages:
-Don't fight evil with evil
-Honesty and justice must prevail
-Hope is always present
-Live every day like it's your last
-Fight for what is right, even when it's hard
-Your "real" parents aren't necessarily the biological ones, your "real"parents are the ones who fulfill the parental role of guidance and love

Conclusion: An excellently put together story that deserves its Newberry Honor award, Hope Was Here drives home some very good points and is a fun story with entertaining and unique characters. A light read, I recommend it for ages 12+, girls and boys.

Rating: 5 (Loved it!)