Like most reviews, this one is late. In our world with so many complex problems, what is one late book review? What could I possibly give you, the reader, that would make any difference in your life? Ah.....maybe one thing. A tip on hope. Although HOPE WAS HERE was designed for young adult readers, it abounds with hope for all who read it. And, you have to admit it, we all need hope.
There are a lot of stories out there for young readers today. Some stories sling the hash, others sling the bull. But at the end of a long day would you rather have something that sticks to your ribs or to the bottom of your shoes? This story sticks with you like good food and gives you that well-being feeling of a rush of endorphins. The author, Joan Bauer, isn't like many short-visioned writers churning out garbage for young minds. She entices the young reader with real people, real pain, and real hope.
Bauer weaves her plots with a high-energy girl named Hope who offers "full-service waitressing" mixed with common sense, honesty, and solid restraurant philosophy. Hope is a rejected transplant with only one constant relationship in her life. Using that as a seed of hope, and watered with the intrigue of dirty-play politics, Bauer gives us a must-finish story.
When you've finished, you realize you have been in the presence of "do the right thing, no matter who opposes you" kind of people. People of character, morals, and truth. Meet the restrautant owner fighting for his life and community fairness; the young cook who rates at least an 7.4 and rising on the male cuteness scale; the faithful aunt who subs as a mom and cooks with professional creative flair, and the gang of school kids who actually make a difference in their town.
Oh, there are plenty of antagonists, too, who play their sinister roles. We see them in this little Wisconsin dairy town fashioned as a microcosm for the self-serving politics of any town or nation. If you are asking if there is any help, trust, or truth left to maintain our freedoms, you will find this a great text book. But wait, this is for young readers not flag wavers or bible thumpers. My point exactly! Just when you've given up on how to serve good food to kids without them knowing it, this book comes along and hope come with it. It welcomes the reader like twin "Welcome Stairways." They remind you that no matter where you are coming from or what you we seek in a book, you leave blessed for the time spent.
Like a great engrossing movie that makes you unaware of the actors acting, Bauer's writing skills make us forget that this is fiction. This makes the reader delight in being part of Hope's life. We get a taste of the food service trade with funny but thoughtful rules of professional waitnessing. We get the common sense of survival through a free verse poem straight from a heart of a teenager's pain. We get clever one liners worth remembering.........."a B-minus in Grief," "a creaking door of friendship opening," and the "sweet snyergy of food service." Oh, and don't forget the hearse outside ready to cart us away - reminding us to make the days count.
So it is all here: great touchable characters kids and adults can relate to, an intriguing plot for today's times, humor that takes the edge off reality's pain, and a crafted style of writing that gives young adults books a new standard of measure. Oh, and let's not forget that books for young people are more than primers, they help shape moral development that schools and parents say we need, but forget to teach.
Well, the first election of the century is almost here. Politics, being what is, needs thoughtful voters. Vote, but read this book first. Pick up a copy soon......for HOPE WAS HERE is NOW here at your local book stores. You'll thank me for taking my advice. You'll thank Joan Bauer for her creative talents reminding us all not to give up but to do our part because HOPE is here now.