This Isn’t Rush Hour – a REview of Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

We’ve been doing a lot of re-views lately, haven’t we? HOWEVER something new did come out of this.

A book I loved and thought I was devoted to wound up disappointing me.

When her aunt’s diner shuts down, Hope Yancey moves with her to a diner needing a pick-me-up in Wisconsin. A few days after the two of them start working there they discover that the owner, G.T., decided to run for mayor once he discovered he had cancer. Hope then gets swept up in a whirlwind with the other teens of the town to campaign against the corrupt mayor and help the town out financially in as many ways as possible. But when your mayor is a corrupt moneybags giant, you bet they have ways to stiffen morale.

Back when I read this I was 14, got intrigued by the title and bought this at the book fair. I think I was reading this during an election period myself? Regardless, this was a very touching and heartwarming book that nearly made me cry towards the end, seeing Hope find a family instead of wishing for her own to find her again.

Clearly back then I didn’t know what good storytelling was.

The plot itself was great, very compelling and hit me in the right places again on the second read. It was very interesting to see the twists, turns and processes mentioned in the election campaign and you the corrupt mayor fought back. That side of things made for a very interesting plot in spite of its simplicity.

But then we get to problems I didn’t see back when I was 14. First off, it was rushed. Crazy rushed. That made a lot of those moments last not nearly as long as I wanted them to. How dare. And this was more rushed than in other novels, which is surprising. I should’ve known based on how thin the book was, but I’ve read novels with same page number and yet bigger font sizes that had more cohesively paced stories than this.

Second, I don’t get why it was told from Hope’s point of view. Not only is she a Mary Sue in this novel, but she has no agency relating directly to the plot. I think only one problem in this novel relating to the main plot was solved by her. And when she said she found her family and people to care for her at the end of the novel, I was struggling to find the moments that claimed so.

The other characters weren’t greater either. Not only did this include love-interest-exists-only-to-make-the-lead-feel-horny syndrome, but none of the other characters aside from the villain had any personal and clear goals except for maybe one of the other waitresses at the diner. Even the main character, as mentioned before. The entire town was full of plot vessels. Terrible storytelling.

So I think I had my head in the clouds. And this book which I have kept for eight years will find a new home at a charity thrift shop.

Hope Was Here gets a score of 2/5. I’ve never read a story that took place in such a boring town before.

Yours in writing


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