Hi friends! I’m Sarah, and I’ll be hanging out with you in this space for the month of July. Let’s give Amy a round of applause, shall we, and tell her to enjoy a well-deserved break (from leading book club at least) these next few weeks! We will keep the Book Club Survey open one more week and then share the results with you. So far 92 people have responded. Can you believe it?! If you haven’t filled it out yet, this is your last week. Thanks! (You can fill it out here.)
Okay, who needs a dose of hope this month? I’m loving our July Young Adult novel Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer, and today we’re going to look at chapters 1-6 together. Hope Yancey is a 16-year old waitress extraordinaire and she comes by it naturally. Her mother, mostly out of the picture, has passed on many lessons from years of being a waitress, and her aunt Addie is a fabulous cook and much more of a parent figure to her. I’ve never worked in food service, but is being able to handle five plates in one arm normal? I was impressed.
Hope and her aunt are leaving the big city after the partner/owner of the diner they were working at absconded with their money, forcing them to shut down. Transitioning from New York to the little rural town of Mulhoney, Wisconsin, Addie and Hope are trying to start over and take the opportunity to help run and work at Welcome Stairways, a diner owned by G.T. who is dealing with leukemia. I’m a small town girl but I’ve lived the city life too. Seeing fields and family-owned stores feels like home to me, but at this point in the story, the situation is not exactly what Hope had in mind.
Let’s talk about food! Anyone else feel hungry reading this book? Maybe that’s just me. I would love to try the sandwich that Hope invented called the Keep Hoping- smoked turkey, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and chopped salad greens. Food not only gives fuel to our bodies but nourishes our soul too, and that’s something Addie, Hope and G.T. seem to understand and put into practice. Their job is more than just delivering the right food to the right table but also about knowing their customer, understanding each heart and meeting a need.
“To adapt is to overcome,” G.T. tells Addie and Hope on their first day. This could be a theme song for overseas life, couldn’t it? In this section we’ve seen G.T. decide to run for mayor despite facing a battle with cancer because he cares about the town and living the life he has in front of him. Hope is learning a new menu, trying to build relationships and settle into life in a new place (with a budding romance perhaps?). We all face challenges, whether that’s finding the right place to pay the water bill, learning to love rice, dealing with unmet expectations (our own and others), health crises, the adventures of team dynamics or figuring out life again in our passport country. I tend to stay stuck in the challenge, gutting through the hard and the hurt rather than seeking out creative adaptability in my heart and circumstances. How about you? What are ways you have learned to adapt and overcome the challenges you’ve faced?
I had not heard of the Quaker concept of welcome stairways but I’m curious how that will play out in the rest of the story. Is it a theme or merely an apropos name for the local diner?
Well, friends, over to you! What are your favorite parts of Hope Was Here so far? Do you see any parallels to overseas life? Any of the food from the book sound like something you would like to try?
Let’s chat in the comments!
Here’s the plan for the rest of the month:
July 17- Chapters 7-11
July 24- Chapters 12-16
July 31- Chapters 17-21