“Joy and sadness mix together like cream in coffee.” Hope Was Here
Some days despite all your valiant efforts, it feels like the darkness is winning. It’s not necessarily those moments when the heat is unrelenting, the internet won’t stay on long enough to finish the important email, or the gas runs out just as you are cooking supper (although, YES, those are frustrating). It feels more like you are losing the battle, the enemy is pulling ahead and you wonder if the heaviness will lift or whether truth will prevail.
What a roller-coaster of emotions as we wrap up our Young Adult Novel for July, Hope was Here. As we started this section coming off the high of new relationships and political campaign progress, our diner characters get the good news that G.T.’s cancer is in remission. Then things start a rather downward spiral as a rumor begins spreading that the doctor’s report wasn’t positive. “We were working as hard as we could to get the truth out. The hospital even denied the report, showed G.T.’s medical records. But the lie was everywhere, and it was winning.” This resonates with my heart and the line of work so many of us are in. Some days it definitely feels like the lie is winning.
Things are bleak for a while, even through to election day when G.T. loses. I honestly didn’t think this was how things would turn out, figured this was too good of a story for him to lose. But just like my mom used to tell me growing up, “The truth always comes out.” And it does, implicating Mayor Millstone for voter fraud and putting G.T. in office.
I love that this isn’t just a story of a political victory or things being made right in small town drama, just a romantic tale of finding the perfect boyfriend. It is about family and roots, all the beautiful definitions of home and the myriad of ways we have to keep fighting for joy and hope.
G.T. isn’t at all what Hope pictured her father would be like or look like, and yet he is better than she could have imagined. He cares for her well, believes in her and cheers her on. He takes a group of enthusiastic teenagers, including Hope, and teaches them about caring well for their neighbors, growing leaders and servants who do what they can to serve their community. His love for Hope brings healing as she processes the betrayal of the last diner owner/partner back in the big city, giving her permission to feel and cry and let go of anger. His strength sustains her even through the painful return of his leukemia, the slow fade of the light his life has brought to so many around him.
It is a beautiful and horrible thing to walk with someone in death. I remember sitting beside my grandmother in her last days, her body weak from cancer. She was ready to be done with the pain and I was ready for that for her too. There is joy in the sweet memories and last moments, sorrow over our loss on this side of heaven. I was touched with how the author handled that journey for our characters, giving space for grief and honoring legacy.
And so we close the last page of this book with that same mix of joy and sorrow.
Did Hope was Here end the way that you expected? How has this story resonated with you?
- August 7th: Chapters 1-8
- August 14th: Chapters 9-17
- August 21st: Chapters 18-26
- August 28th: Chapters 27-the end
September—Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway (we’ve got something fun up our sleeves for you!)
October/November—Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren